Archiv für den Tag 14. Oktober 2014
Sie wollte eigentlich nur das Volleyball-Länderspiel der Männer zwischen Iran und Italien sehen – jetzt wird einer Iranerin dafür der Prozess gemacht, nach mehr als einem Vierteljahr Gefangenschaft.
von EVI SIMEONI
Dieser Dienstag ist ein wichtiger Tag. Ganz besonders für Ghoncheh Ghavami, eine 25 Jahre alte Studentin, die seit Juni in Teheran im furchterregenden Evin-Gefängnis sitzt. Nach mehr als einem Vierteljahr Gefangenschaft, nach 41 Tagen in Einzelhaft, nach Verhören, Besuchsverbot und Hungerstreik, wird ihr jetzt der Prozess gemacht. Ihr Vergehen: Zusammen mit anderen Frauen hat sie am 20. Juni vor dem Azadi Stadion gefordert, das Volleyball-Länderspiel der Männer zwischen Iran und Italien ansehen zu dürfen. Doch der Blick auf Männer in Sportkleidung ist Frauen im Iran nicht erlaubt. Vorgeworfen wird ihr „Propaganda gegen das Regime“.
Ghoncheh Ghavami war erst ein paar Monate im Land, als sie verhaftet wurde. Sie ist in London geboren und ist britische und iranische Staatsbürgerin. Eigentlich war sie nach Teheran gekommen, um Kinder das Lesen zu lehren. Jetzt bringt ihr der Iran die Flötentöne bei.
“Time is passing rapidly and we are still not unhopeful to reach a conclusion by Nov. 24,” Aragchi told reporters at a meeting with the judiciary officials in Mashhad.
On the upcoming talks in Vienna, Araghchi said, “If the results of this next round of talks are not good enough, we certainly will not reach a final deal by Nov. 24.”
Araghchi said that the Oct. 14 meeting will be bilateral talks with the United States and European Union Foreign Policy Chief Catherine Ashton. The Oct. 15 meeting will be trilateral talks betweenAshton, Iran’s lead negotiator and Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and US Secretary of State John Kerry.
Araghchi, Deputy Foreign Minister for European and American Affairs Majid Takht Ravanchi and US Undersecretary of State Wendy Sherman are also scheduled to hold bilateral meetings.
“These negotiations will be about the topics of sanctions and how to lift them and enrichment,” Araghchi said, adding that he hopes “we can open a new path.”
In a transcript provided by Fars News Agency, Aragchi said, “Everything is possible, even extending the negotiations.” He did not elaborate on what an extension might look like.
Iran and the P5+1 initially reached an interim deal in November 2013. Iran suspended some nuclear activity in exchange for the temporary lifting of some sanctions and the unblocking of some funds. In July 2014, the negotiators agreed to extend the deadline until Nov. 24.
On the last negotiations that took place on the sidelines of the 69th UN General Assembly, Araghchi said, “In New York, there were expectations that progress would take place, but that did not happen.” Western negotiators also said that “limited progress” had been made in those talks.
According to the spokesman of the parliamentary National Security and Foreign Policy Committee, Seyed Hossein Naghvi-Hosseini, Zarif’s report to the committee about the New York negotiations did not appear optimistic. According to Naghi-Hosseini, Zarif told the committee that lobbies in the United States affiliated with Israel did not want any type of deal made with Iran and for this reason, the United States was not looking to reach an agreement, and that Iran needed to prove to others that they tried to reach a deal. The comments of this committee, which has taken a hard line against the nuclear talks and previously leaked a number of details about the nuclear talks, did not receive wide media coverage inside Iran.
President Hassan Rouhani’s own adviser, Ali Younessi, contradicted Naghvi-Hosseini and said that the United States, of all the P5+1 countries, was the most inclined toward reaching a final deal with Iran, but that China and Russia did not want to see a deal happen. However, he added that he was not optimistic about reaching a final deal.
The administration has increased its efforts to inform and educate people to willingly become donors, which is why the donor card system was created. A section that has also been added to driver’s licenses in Iran that indicates the license holder’s decision to donate his/her organs.
“Starting on Sept. 21, 2014, no more organ transplant operations will be performed on non-Iranians,” Iranian officials announced in September.
The major reason this decision was made, according to the Ministry of Health, was that the number of foreign citizens who have undergone organ transplant surgery in Iran — 608 legally documented over the past 10 years — was already high, considering the number of Iranian patients in critical condition.
In an interview with Al-Monitor, Dr. Nader S., a nephrologist and experienced transplant specialist in Shiraz, said, “In the private hospital where I am a major share-holder, we had a few cases of foreigners who would travel to Iran and buy a kidney from healthy, broke folks through middlemen and kidney dealers, and then would undergo transplant surgery in our hospital, which is a big, modern, well-equipped hospital, also quite costly; but the latter was obviously no big deal for these people.”
Another recent development has been banning private hospitals from performing transplant surgeries (starting last month), and limiting these procedures to public and teaching hospitals.
The reasons stated for the decision to limit organ transplant surgeries to public and teaching hospitals is to stop what Iran’s health officials refer to as numerous counts of misconduct and abuse of the system, as well as the need for better regulation of transplant procedures and finally, access to better, updated and high-tech equipment in public and teaching hospitals.
A controversial aspect of the topic of transplant is the religious aspect. While there have been differences of opinion among Iranian Shiite clerics about this matter in the past, the organ transplant bill (regarding transplanting organs from the bodies of brain-dead patients) that passed in Iran’s Majles (parliament) in 2000, further paved the way for the procedure. There are still mixed views concerning the details, but Iranian clerics generally accept the procedure. The matters in which nuances become apparent are transplanting the organ(s) of a male to a female or vice-versa, and transplanting organs of a non-Muslim to a Muslim, or vice-versa.
In an interview with Al-Monitor, Mohsen Kadivar, a philosopher and Iranian dissident cleric, expressed his opinion on the matter: “Iranian clerics are quite advanced in this regard. Wahhabis, on the other hand, could be quite harsh on rejecting the idea of transplanting organs. Although I have not studied their view on it in particular, one of the reasons that citizens of Saudi Arabia would have been inclined to travel to Iran for such procedures, other than Iran’s advanced medicine, may have been the difficulties they face in their own country, created by their clerics. I would say Orthodox Christians, too, are less open to what may be interpreted by some clerics as disrupting the acts of God. Personally, although I’d carefully consider the matter on a case-by-case basis, I’d generally say I am welcoming of saving a person’s life if there is a team of physicians pronouncing another person brain-dead. That is, if it is certain he is in a vegetative state, and if his next-of-kin allow the transplant.”
The Iranian government has made considerable efforts as of late, through ceremonies with celebrities in attendance (such as the annual “Nafas [Breath] Feast,“ celebrating its 11th year in 2014), and public announcements to attract the population’s attention to the benefits of organ donation. Official statistics reveal that currently, 1,400,000 Iranians are registered donors.
Another task Iranian health authorities are attempting to accomplish is persuading families to allow hospitals to proceed with the donation process. Despite being a registered donor, the next-of-kin’spermission is still required for the donation process to get started.
Zahra, 28, a homemaker in Kerman, told Al-Monitor, “I was on top of the waiting list for a heart transplant, in critical condition, and getting eerily closer to death almost by the hour. I later found out that although my donor was registered, at first his family would not allow the organs to be transplanted and the hospital had had a very tough time convincing them, especially his mother.”
Iran’s health authorities estimate the average time needed for donor organs to be extracted from the donor’s body to be 36 hours. Some conservative or traditional Iranian Muslims have mentioned that one of the reasons for their reluctance to allow the process is the necessary wait between death and the release of the body, which delays the burial of their loved one. Examining this reluctance in his interview with Al-Monitor, Kadivar said, “I don’t think of it as an obstacle. Fast burial is recommended in Islam because, at the time of this recommendation, morgues did not exist. Nowadays they do. Plus, the length of time many families spend on preparations or awaiting the arrival of other family members or relatives probably surpasses 36 hours, anyway. “
While progress has recently been made in the organ transplant domain in Iran, there still are, according to Iran’s Ministry of Health, numerous problems and shortcomings within the organ donation system in the country. The organs of an average of 2,500 brain-dead people out of 5,000 should be, under normal circumstances, transplanted. This number is only 665 in Iran: the low number being due to multiple issues, the most significant ones being shortage of equipment and surgeons in small towns, delay in obtaining permission from the families of the donors and miscommunication or lack of communication between relevant and responsible medical units. These issues beg serious attention, and gravely diminish the chances of patients in need of organ transplants of receiving them from donors.
Military service has been a point of conflict between the youth and the establishment over the past three decades, ever since the 1979 revolution. All Iranian males are required to report for military service at age 18. However, college students can receive a temporary educational exemption, while others can seek exemption for medical reasons or if they need to care for elderly parents.
According to statistics, each year about 2 million students graduate from universities in Iran. Unless they have obtained a temporary or permanent exemption, they are required to report to a military service center within a year after graduation. Failure to do so results in an additional three to six months of service.
Leaving an academic environment for a military garrison is a point of stress and anxiety for many young students. “I seriously thought I was going to go mad when I heard that they have added three more months to the compulsory service,” said Adel, a graduate student of electronics at the Khajeh Nasir Toosi University of Technology. “If I am supposed to end up in a military garrison, then I should have gone for it after I finished high school when I was 18. The service time was shorter back then. It’s going to be two years of my life!”
In 2009, the army shortened military service to 18 months. Service time was further shortened for men with bachelor’s, master’s or doctoral degrees to one to three months. In 2012, however, military service was set at 21 months for all citizens. Now, from 2015, it will increase to 24 months.
Mehdi Karroubi, a candidate in the 2009 presidential elections and a Green Movement leader, said that reforming the military service law would be a priority if he were to be elected. According to his proposed plan, military service would be made into a profession in Iran. Those who abstain from service would be required to pay a fee and take part in a 60-day training program.
In 1999, the Iranian parliament passed a proposal allowing Iranian men to pay a fee to exempt themselves from military service. The amount, depending on the applicant’s education level, ranged from 1.3 to 2.5 million tomans ($1,600 to $3,100). The conservative faction criticized this proposal, calling it discriminatory against the less affluent. By the end of the year, the proposal was completely dismissed.
After the West imposed sanctions on Iran, the country’s income level, which mostly comes from the oil industry, radically decreased. As a result, the army’s allocated budget has subsequently decreased over the past three years — a reality that has affected soldiers’ salaries and living conditions in the garrisons.
In April, Brig. Gen. Hamid Sadr Sadat, the head of the Military Service Organization, announced, “The proposal that was confirmed by the parliament regarding the increase in the salaries of soldiers is still within the agenda of the organization.”
Yet, last October, Tehran member of parliament and former Sepah commander Esmaeil Kowsari told Tasnim News that there was no budget allocated for this issue.
According to officials in the Military Service Organization, soldiers’ salaries range from 100,000 to 110,000 tomans per month ($30 to $35). Aside from this, soldiers do not have suitable living standards.
Alireza completed his military service after receiving his doctorate in pharmaceuticals. He talked to Al-Monitor about his two-month training program in a military garrison in Tehran, saying that the soldiers faced malnutrition. “Vegetables, fruit, dairy products and other sources of calcium and vitamins were nonexistent. The quality of food was disastrous, but this was not the only problem. The other problem was the quantity of rice and meat. For example, they would put only 20 grams of meat in a stew. Everyone was constantly hungry.”
In February 2014, Esmaeil Ahmadi Moghaddam, head of the Law Enforcement Forces, confirmed thatsoldiers faced malnutrition, saying, “Our low budget is preventing us from distributing protein-rich and vitamin-rich foods among the soldiers.”
A member of the Islamic Iran Participation Front (Mosharekat) told Al-Monitor, on the condition of anonymity, “This compulsory service is partly about expanding the policy of force and control. It is similar to the mandatory hijab. The establishment wants to keep its authority over the country’s youth. When highly educated young men spend a lot of time in the military garrisons, their mental and physical health declines. It is hard to understand why a government would do this to its own human and social capital.”
He added, “What I don’t understand, however, is why they are increasing the duration of the compulsory service given our current situation and the economic crisis. When we don’t have a [sufficient] budget for the armed forces, why are we adding three more months to the compulsory military service?”
Some believe the service-extension decision was made in relation to the Iranian government’s recent policy of encouraging parents to have more children.
During Brig. Gen. Kamali’s Sept. 30 announcement regarding the new law, he said, “Married soldiers will have their service time shortened by three months. Also, for each child, another three months is subtracted. In other words, if a soldier is married and has one child, his service time will be shortened by six months.”
A military official working in the Military Service Organization in Tehran told Al-Monitor, “We couldn’t really figure out why they added three more months to the compulsory service, unless it really is about encouraging young people to have children.”
The official believes it could also be related to the rise in unemployment and the current economic decline. “Well, this way, each of these young men have to spend three more months in the garrison, which is better than staying home and being unemployed.”
“Some in the media and some officials have started to say that corruption is everywhere,” said Ayatollah Sadegh Larijani Oct. 12. “This is contrary to reality. That newspapers reinforce this is a mistake, and it leads to hopelessness among the people, and this issue is a national security issue.”
Using a pejorative to describe Reformist media, Larijani said, “The chain newspapers print the names of individuals from cases that are still with the prosecutors and write in their headlines that some ministers were caught up in this case.”
He said that information on open cases should not be published early and warned, “I gave the prosecutor’s office orders to monitor these media and to not give up on whatever is against the law and even to issue a summons if necessary.”
Larijani’s comments were aimed at the media coverage of statements made by judicial spokesman Gholam-Hossein Mohseni-Ejei on Oct. 6. While discussing the corruption case of billionaire Babak Zanjani, who had been tasked with helping Iran evade sanctions by discretely selling its oil, Mohseni-Ejei said, “In this case, the names of three ministers from the previous administration and the head of the central bank were presented and in regard to these four individuals, research was conducted.”
These comments made the front page of a number of Reformist newspapers, many of which had been under intense pressure during the Ahmadinejad administration, particularly from Culture Minister Mohammad Hosseini.
Conservative website Mashregh News took this opportunity to attack the Reformist press for its coverage of Mohseni-Ejei’s statements. It reported, “Based on the daily observations of the for-hire Reformist chain media, Mashregh became aware of a coordinated cooperation by these media.”
In its article, headlined, “Which media was Larijani warning?” Mashregh published screenshots of the front pages of six Reformist newspapers that ran the corruption case and the ministers implicated as their top stories. The article claimed that these outlets, all of which support the administration of President Hassan Rouhani, ignore other cases of corruption and give special coverage to these because they involve Ahmadinejad’s administration. Mashregh’s outrage, however, bypassed its own coverage. The news organization not only published the comments by Mohseni-Ejei on Oct. 6 but also featured them in a top headline.
In response to Larijani’s comments, well known editor and translator Khashayar Dayhimi wrote a very harsh letter to Larijani entitled “A lawless country.” He wrote that when the corruption case involving Ahmadinejad’s vice president becomes known to everyone, a case he called “one of thousands,” then the media can’t be accused of making the corruption seem bigger than it really is. In regard to Larijani’s comments about people becoming “hopeless” about the situation, he wrote, “The people have already made their judgments and they will do so again.”
Let’s start with Israel. There, the consensus is that the offer from the five permanent members of the UN Security Council and Germany (P5+1) to Iran is similar to a deal recommended by Robert Einhornof the Brookings Institution in Washington.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu believed that the current P5+1 offer, which if Tehran accepted would leave it with a limited enrichment capacity on its soil, would be a “bad” deal. He has in fact stated that such a deal would be “catastrophic,” despite the deal’s requirement that Iran’s nuclear facilities be placed under some of the most stringent inspections possible by the International Atomic Energy Agency.
This attitude ignores numerous estimates that if Iran accepted the P5+1 offer, it would take a minimum of six months to a year to make a weapon with the limited number of centrifuges left on its soil, if and when Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei decides to give the order.
Leaving Iran with limited enrichment capacity is not an ideal situation for many Israelis. Ideally, the majority of Israelis would most probably prefer that the current Iranian regime, which has repeatedly called for the elimination of Israel, be left without a nuclear program. Most would probably prefer that the current regime in Iran be toppled and replaced with a democratic government.
However, none of this is likely to happen anytime soon. It’s extremely unlikely that Iran would agree to dismantle its entire nuclear program. There is also no sign of an imminent democratic revolution in Iran.
Therefore, if the deal being proposed by the P5+1 is accepted by Iran, would the Israeli public demand war? Would it turn against its own politicians for not stopping such a deal?
Highly unlikely. One major reason is that such a deal would address major concerns of the Israeli public regarding Iran’s nuclear program. These concerns include halting the advancement of Iran’s nuclear program while making it difficult and costly for Iran’s leadership to decide to make a nuclear weapon.
The Israeli public also has other priorities. When Israelis went to the polls last time in January 2013, according to a poll conducted and published by The Times of Israel, only 12% saw Iran as the most urgent issue. The biggest group, 43%, cited economic concerns as its top priority. There is no evidence to suggest that these priorities have changed since then.
The same applies to Iran. Its most powerful figure, and the person with the last word regarding the nuclear program, has publicly set out his 11 red lines regarding the nuclear negotiations.
One of the most notable of these holds that an agreement must enable Iran to ultimately expand its enrichment capacity to 190,000 separative work units. This means that instead of its 9,000 currentfunctioning centrifuges, Iran should be allowed to add approximately 180,000 next-generation centrifuges.
Therefore, anything less would be considered a “bad deal” for him.
So what would happen if Iran accepted the P5+1’s offer to recognize Iran’s right to enrich uranium on its soil in return for Iran halving the number of its operating centrifuges and agreeing to tougher inspections? Would the people of Iran revolt against their government? Would they insist their government reject such an offer at the cost of living under continued sanctions and isolation?
Highly unlikely. We have to remember that when it comes to the nuclear program, the voice and opinion of the people of Iran have a minuscule if any impact on the regime’s elite that designs the country’s nuclear strategy.
It’s not that the people of Iran don’t want to have an impact; they do. In most cases, they are prevented from doing so by the ruling elite.
There are several cases that prove this point.
First and foremost, calls for a referendum over the nuclear program have been rejected. Then there is the fact that the regime does not even allow any debate in the press, especially any that presents ideas that run counter to the establishment’s narrative regarding the nuclear program. When Tehran University professor Sadegh Zibakalam did counter the narrative by publicly stating that he does not see any benefit in Iran’s current nuclear program, he received a suspended sentence of 18 months in prison.
If the Iranian nuclear program belonged to the people of Iran, it would be they who would set the negotiations’ red lines, and not an unelected official such as Ayatollah Khamenei. But this is not the case.
If the leaders of the Islamic Republic are confident of the public’s backing when it comes to their current nuclear strategy, why do they prevent public debate? Why do they sentence to jail those who dispute their narrative? Why not allow a referendum? Iran would not be the first country to hold a referendum regarding its civilian nuclear program. The answer seems clear: Iran’s leadership does not believe that it has the public’s backing for its current nuclear strategy.
Although there have been a number of polls inside Iran, including a July survey by the University of Tehran and University of Maryland that showed public support for the current nuclear strategy of the Iranian government, there is reason to be skeptical of such polls.
In Iran, people can be sentenced to jail for countering the government narrative regarding the nuclear program, especially to an unknown stranger over the phone who has their contact details. In such an atmosphere, the fear factor could affect poll results.
Hassan Rouhani was elected on the platform of improving Iran’s economy and the welfare of Iranian citizens. One of his main campaign slogans regarding the nuclear program was that not only the nuclear program but the economy should also function and thrive.
Although Iran’s economy has improved somewhat since Rouhani entered office, numerous major problems still remain. Inflation is at 20%. Subsidies have been cut. Iran’s economy is still very much suffering because of sanctions, and a historic drought is on the way that will need many billions of dollars to manage.
Much as in the Israeli public, there are no indications that the priorities of the people of Iran have changed since the last legislative elections in the country. Again, like the people of Israel, economic issues seem as if not more important than the nuclear program to the Iranian public. Both populations want the situation to de-escalate, and for their leaders to address other important domestic issues.
The people of both Iran and Israel could live with the P5+1’s current offer to Iran. It’s now up to their leaders, especially the supreme leader of Iran, who has the last word on Iran’s nuclear program.
Impact Iran Coalition and International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran draw attention to Iran’s upcoming human rights review
October 14, 2014— Impact Iran, a coalition of human rights organizations, in partnership with the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran, today launched a new video, “Promises Made, Promises Broken.” The video is part of a series aimed at drawing attention to Iran’s second Universal Periodic Review (UPR) at the UN Human Rights Council on October 31, 2014. A new video will be released each week leading up to the review.
Their first video features nine persecuted Iranians who powerfully tell their stories of repression, harassment, detainment and torture in their own words. While these activists, bloggers, lawyers and students put a face to Iran’s human rights abuses, their stories are shared by many Iranians whose rights are violated every day.
“’Promises Made, Promises Broken‘ tells the story of Iran’s human rights abuses through the compelling personal accounts of those who have experienced firsthand what it is like to live with this level of repression,” said Hadi Ghaemi, executive director of the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran. “These individuals were targeted because of their religious beliefs, their peaceful rights advocacy, their sexual orientation, and their ethnicity, which goes against all of Iran’s human rights commitments.”
Despite the fact that Iran accepted 126 recommendations from UN Human Rights Council member countries at its last UPR in 2010, it has not honored the majority of these commitments, and violations continue to occur. For example, Iran agreed to improve protections against torture and ill treatment of detainees. However, several of the Iranians featured in “Promises Made, Promises Broken” report being victims of physical and psychological torture during their unjust detainments. The video calls on viewers throughout the international community to raise their voices and hold Iran accountable for its track record on human rights.
“As Iran’s second UPR approaches, it has never been more important that we take measures to ensure the Iranian government keeps its human rights promises,” said Mani Mostofi, Director of Impact Iran. “This video series puts human faces to each of Iran’s repressive practices and urges viewers to raise their voices in solidarity with these persecuted Iranians to hold Iran accountable.”
Source: International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran