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Deutschland| Ge­mein­sa­me Er­klä­rung der In­nen­mi­nis­ter und -se­na­to­ren des Bun­des und der Län­der – Flüchtlinge

II. Herausforderungen der Flüchtlingspolitik

Wir bekennen uns uneingeschränkt zum Asylrecht als Grundrecht für politisch Verfolgte. Um
den Herausforderungen drastisch steigender Asyl- und Flüchtlingszahlen gerecht zu werden,
bedarf es einer gemeinsamen Kraftanstrengung von Bund, Ländern und Kommunen. Der
Chef des Bundeskanzleramtes sowie die Chefs der Staats- und Senatskanzleien der Länder
werden hierzu am kommenden Donnerstag beraten. Die Innenminister und -senatoren der
Länder erwarten vom Bund eine Entlastung der Kosten von Kommunen und Ländern bei der
Aufnahme von Flüchtlingen, zum Beispiel bei den Kosten der Gesundheitsversorgung.

Wir haben uns heute auf die folgenden Maßnahmen verständigt:

1. Beschleunigtes Asylverfahren

Wir brauchen eine zügige Bearbeitung von Asylanträgen von Flüchtlingen aus den extrem
unsicheren Herkunftsländern, weil diese grundsätzlich und möglichst schnell ihre Anerken­
nung erhalten sollen. Es bleibt aber gerade in der heutigen Lage auch richtig, dass Menschen
aus sicheren Herkunftsländern grundsätzlich als nicht verfolgt gelten sollen. Im Rahmen der
anstehenden Gesetzgebungsvorhaben wird der Bund weitere Lösungen erarbeiten; die auch
zur Beschleunigung von Asylverfahren beitragen sollen.

In diesem Zusammenhang haben sich Bund und Länder darauf verständigt, künftig den Be­
trieb des Systems zur Erstverteilung von Asylbegehrenden auf die Bundesländer (EASY) auch
am Wochenende zu ermöglichen.

2. Asylverfahren – Umgang mit der Zunahme unbegleiteter minderjähriger Flüchtlinge

Bund und Länder stellen fest, dass die Zunahme unbegleiteter minderjähriger Flüchtlinge die
Jugendämter in den Bundesländern teilweise vor erhebliche Herausforderungen stellt und
sind deshalb der Auffassung, dass Maßnahmen geprüft werden müssen, um einseitige Belas­
tungen auszugleichen.

3. Bessere personelle Ausstattung des BAMF

Der Bund wird mehr Personal für das Bundesamt für Migration und Flüchtlinge bereitstellen,
um die Bearbeitung der 145.000 derzeit anhängigen Asylanträge zu beschleunigen. Es muss
gelingen, dass Flüchtlinge in aller Regel in den zentralen Erstaufnahmeeinrichtungen der
Länder zumindest einen Asylantrag stellen können, bevor sie auf die Kommunen verteilt
werden.

4. Verstärkte Rückführung von illegal Aufhältigen

Damit wirklich Schutzberechtigte zeitnah ihren Aufenthaltsstatus erhalten können und die
große Akzeptanz der Bevölkerung bei der Aufnahme von Flüchtlingen nachhaltig erhalten
bleibt, ist es vorbehaltlich unabweisbarer Härtefälle unabdingbar, bestehende Ausreise­
pflichten konsequent durchzusetzen. Bund und Länder richten für Problemfälle, insbesonde­
re Dublin-Überstellungen, eine Koordinierungsstelle zur Etablierung eines integrierten Rück­
kehrmanagements ein.

5. Gerechtere Verteilung der Flüchtlinge bzw. Asylbewerber in Europa

Wir brauchen eine gerechtere Verteilung von Flüchtlingen in Europa. Die Aufnahme von
Flüchtlingen ist nicht nur eine Aufgabe von wenigen, sondern von allen EU-Mitgliedstaaten.
Der Bund wird sich bei der EU-Kommission weiterhin nachdrücklich dafür einsetzen, dass die
Standards bei der Unterbringung und die Standards des Asylverfahrens in den Mitgliedsstaa­
ten eingehalten werden.

6. Standards für die Flüchtlingsaufnahme

Zu den Standards einer Flüchtlingsaufnahme gehört der respekt- und würdevolle Umgang
mit den betroffenen Menschen. Dazu gehört, dass der Einsatz von Sicherheitspersonal nur
dann in Betracht kommt, wenn die beauftragenden Unternehmen und Kommunen das Per­
sonal einer Sicherheitsüberprüfung unterzogen hat, die regelmäßig wiederholt wird. Soweit
rechtlicher Ergänzungsbedarf besteht, werden Bund und Länder unverzüglich Gespräche
dazu aufnehmen.

Quelle: BMI

FP| Pate für eine ganze Familie

Die dauerhafte Unterbringung von Flüchtlingen in Lagern schafft Probleme – das zeigen nicht zuletzt die Misshandlungsfälle in Nordrhein-Westfalen. In Chemnitz geht man andere Wege: Flüchtlinge haben eigene Wohnungen – und jetzt auch Paten.

Chemnitz. Zu duftendem Tee und Kuchen reicht Rahimeh eine Schachtel Datteln über den Wohnzimmertisch. Im Wörterbuch schlägt die 37-jährige Iranerin das deutsche Wort für die Frucht nach, die ihr als Khorma bekannt ist. Mit Gesten warnt sie den Gast, nicht zu fest zuzubeißen, wegen des Kerns. Schokolade gebe es im Iran auch, klärt Rahimehs ältester Sohn Peyman auf: “Ist aber nicht gesund.” Zum Naschen seien Datteln besser, findet der 20-Jährige. Von seiner fünfköpfigen Familie, die im Dezember nach Chemnitz kam, ist Peyman mit seinen Deutschkenntnissen am weitesten fortgeschritten. “Das Beste an Chemnitz ist Runa. Ich weiß nicht, was wir ohne sie gemacht hätten”, sagt er.

Runa Richter sitzt auf dem Sofa und winkt ab. Sie habe nur getan, was ihre Aufgabe sei. Für den 2008 gegründeten Verein “Save me” vermittelt die 28-jährige Germanistik-Studentin in Chemnitz Patenschaften an Flüchtlingsfamilien. “Inzwischen gibt es das in 58 Städten” sagt sie. In Chemnitz begann das Projekt im September 2013. Bisher haben 25ausländische Familien ortskundige Paten. Ursprünglich bezog sich das Projekt allein auf die von den Vereinten Nationen zugewiesenen Resettlement-Flüchtlinge (siehe nebenstehender Beitrag). Da sich aber in Chemnitz schon weit über 70 Personen, vom Studenten bis zum Rentner, als Paten gemeldet haben, weitete man das Projekt jetzt auf Asylbewerberfamilien aus.

Für ihre iranische Familie ist Runa Richter erstmals selbst Patin. Sie erinnert sich an den Tag im Dezember, als sie sich im Chemnitzer Wohnheim zum ersten Mal begegneten: Vater Teimoor (47), Mutter Rahimeh, deren Söhne Peyman und Kamran und die sechsjährige Tochter Pegah. Da scheiterte die Kommunikation schon an der Übersetzung einfachster, fürs Leben in einer fremden Stadt aber elementarer Fragen: Wo ist ein Supermarkt? Sie ging mit “ihrer” Familie zum Flüchtlingsrat, wo Runa Richter nebenbei jobbt. “Ich wusste, mein Chef dort spricht persisch”, sagt sie. In den ersten Wochen bedurfte es stets eines Übersetzers. “Da haben die Vermittler vom Verein In- und Ausländer sehr geholfen”, sagt sie. Inzwischen besuchen alle Familienmitglieder täglich den Sprachunterricht der Integrationskurse an der Volkshochschule.

Vollständiger Artikel

Iran official says satellite jamming can cause cancer

An Iranian Sunni Kurd woman stands behind a satellite dish on her home’s rooftop at Palangan village in Kurdistan province, southwest of Tehran, May 11, 2011. (photo by REUTERS/Morteza Nikoubazl)

An official with Iran’s Department of Environment has said that jamming satellites can cause cancer and that the agency recommends eliminating jamming efforts by the Iranian government.

Saeed Motassadi, an official with the Department of Environment, said, “A committee was formed in cooperation between the Department of Environment and the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology to address the situation of jamming.” Motassadi told Islamic Republic News Agency, which is managed by the administration of President Hassan Rouhani, that the meetings reached the minister level and that resolutions have been approved.

“The topic of jamming causing cancer was studied many times, and the possibility exists of this illness coming about in individuals as a result from the effects of jamming,” Motassadi said.

Iran has longed jammed foreign satellite channels coming into Iran, particularly Persian-language news channels or ones that conservative authorities believe may influence the culture of younger Iranians in an un-Islamic direction.

Iran has faced sanctions for these jamming efforts and is now believed to be conducting “local jamming,” in which satellite dishes on the rooftops of private houses are targeted. Satellite dishes are ubiquitous inIran’s large cities such as Tehran and even in villages.

Motassadi said, “The recommendation of the Department of Environment is to completely eliminate jamming.” On the concern of conservatives, he said, “If actions are to be taken to confront the cultural invasion and protect detriment to the country, it is better to take other paths.” Motassadi did not say which “other paths” he meant, but in recent years, Iranian police have made efforts to collect and destroyrooftop satellite dishes. These efforts, which have been highly publicized in the media, have been largely ineffective.

According the Motassadi, the joint committee’s investigation is ongoing and will present its final results and solutions. However, he said that they needed more agencies involved.

Cancer is one of leading causes of death in Iran, and conflicting reports and statements have been made by various officials about the effects of jamming.

On Sept. 27, Mohammad Hossein Ghorbani, spokesman for the parliament’s health care committee, warned about the rise of cancer, saying it is “a serious alarm for the country.” He blamed a variety of factors for the increase in cancer cases, such as waste, poor gasoline quality, poor quality of food, poor inspection standards in automobiles and unhealthy water.

In February, Iran’s health minister, Dr. Seyyed Hassan Ghazizadeh Hashemi, announced a special committee to research the health effects of jamming. Dr. Hashemi said that the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology and the Atomic Energy Organization were a part of this committee. It is not clear whether this committee works with the Department of Environment.

In October 2012, the head of Sarem Cell Research Center said that jamming of satellite stations was causing an increase in miscarriages. The Health Ministry denied the claim.

In August 2012, the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology under President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad denied even knowing what body was conducting the jamming.

Source: AL-Monitor

Menschenrechtsbeauftragter Strässer besorgt über Gesundheitzustand hungerstreikender Häftlinge in Iran

Anlässlich aktueller Meldungen über den kritischen Gesundheitszustand von neun inhaftierten und seit einem Monat hungerstreikenden Anhängern des mystischen Nematollahi-Gonabadi-Ordens, Angehörige einer religiösen Minderheit in Iran, erklärte der Beauftragte der Bundesregierung für Menschenrechtspolitik und humanitäre Hilfe im Auswärtigen Amt, Christoph Strässer, heute (02.10.):

Zusatzinformationen

Mit größter Besorgnis erfüllen mich Berichte über den kritischen Gesundheitszustand der neun inhaftierten Anhänger des Nematollahi-Gonabadi-Ordens. Diese waren aus Protest gegen anhaltende Repressionen gegenüber Angehörigen der religiösen Sufi-Minderheit in Iran vor einem Monat in Hungerstreik getreten.
Iran hat sich mit der Ratifizierung des Internationalen Paktes über bürgerliche und politische Rechte verpflichtet, auch das Menschenrecht auf Religions- und Weltanschauungsfreiheit zu achten und zu schützen. Die Unterdrückung religiöser Minderheiten steht dazu in eklatantem Widerspruch.
Ich fordere Iran auf, seiner Verpflichtung nachzukommen, die Menschenrechte Aller unabhängig von religiöser oder ethnischer Zugehörigkeit zu achten und alle Personen, die aufgrund ihrer religiösen oder politischen Weltanschauung inhaftiert sind, unverzüglich frei zu lassen.
Darüber hinaus appelliere ich an alle Verantwortlichen in Iran, den Hungerstreikenden umgehend dringend benötigte medizinische Behandlungen zu gewähren.

Hintergrund:

Die Situation für ethnische und religiöse Minderheiten in Iran ist besorgniserregend. Während Juden, Christen und Zoroastrier laut der iranischen Verfassung als religiöse Minderheiten anerkannt sind und zumindest offiziell Religionsfreiheit genießen, werden Angehörige mystischer Orden innerhalb des Islams (z.B. des schiitischen Nematollahi-Gonabadi-Ordens), auch Sufis oder Derwische genannt, häufig diskriminiert oder durch gewaltsame Übergriffe an ihrer Religionsausübung gehindert.

Anfang September 2011 gab es schwere Übergriffe der Sicherheitskräfte in vielen Landesteilen, v.a. in Kavar, im Zuge derer eine Vielzahl von Sufis sowie Mitarbeiter der zum Nematollahi-Gonabadi-Orden gehörigen Website „Majzooban-e-Noor“  und deren Verteidiger festgenommen wurden. Neun der Inhaftierten – zu Haftstrafen von viereinhalb bis zehneinhalb Jahren verurteilt – sind aus Protest gegen die andauernde landesweite Verfolgung des Nematollahi-Gonabadi-Ordens und gegen die schlechten Haftbedingungen am 31.08.2014 in Hungerstreik getreten. Es handelt sich um die im Teheraner Evin-Gefängnis inhaftierten Omid Behrouzi, Mostafa Daneshjou, Afshin Karampour, Farshid Yadollahi, Mostafa Abdi, Reza Entesari, Amir Eslami, Hamidreza Moradi Sarvestani sowie Kasra Nouri im Nezam-Gefängnis Shiraz. Ihnen wurde u.a. „Propaganda gegen das Regime“ und „Handeln gegen die nationale Sicherheit“ vorgeworfen.

To Light a Candle – trailer for a film by Maziar Bahari

The Baha’is are a religious minority in Iran. They are systematically imprisoned, tortured and killed by the Iranian government. The Islamic regime bans the Baha’is to study or teach in Iranian universities. But the Baha’is do teach, and they do study. Since 1987 the Baha’is started BIHE, an underground university with hundreds of students in Iran, and dozens of teachers in Iran and around the world. Through powerful interviews, exclusive secret footage shot by citizen journalists, rare archival material and dramatic letters written by a Baha’i prisoners currently in jail in Iran, To Light a Candle shows how a small minority has defied the brutal systematic religious persecution through non-violent resistance and educating their youth. A film by Maziar Bahari.

Radio 91,2| Steinmeier drängt auf Lösung im Atomstreit mit Iran

In den Atom-Verhandlungen mit dem Iran drängt Deutschland auf eine baldige Lösung. Außenminister Frank-Walter Steinmeier mahnte am Rande der UN-Vollversammlung in New York, die Chancen für eine Einigung jetzt auch zu nutzen.
Bundesaußenminister Frank-Walter Steinmeier (l) begrüßt am am Rande der UN-Generalversammlung in New York den Präsidenten des Iran, Hassan Ruhani. Foto: Daniel Bockwoldt

Bundesaußenminister Frank-Walter Steinmeier (l) begrüßt am am Rande der UN-Generalversammlung in New York den Präsidenten des Iran, Hassan Ruhani. Foto: Daniel Bockwoldt

«Es liegen viele Angebote und Vorschläge auf dem Tisch», sagte Steinmeier am Donnerstagabend (Ortszeit) nach einem Treffen mit dem iranischen Präsidenten Hassan Ruhani. «Es ist jetzt die Zeit, den Konflikt endlich zu beenden.»

Der Iran steht seit vielen Jahren im Verdacht, unter dem Deckmantel eines zivilen Nuklearprogramms an der Entwicklung eigener Atomwaffen zu arbeiten. Die Regierung in Teheran weist dies zurück.

Die Verhandlungen zwischen dem Iran und den fünf ständigen Mitgliedern des UN-Sicherheitsrates – USA, China, Russland, Großbritannien und Frankreich – sowie Deutschland (5+1) liefen auch am Rande der Vollversammlung weiter. Letzter Termin für eine Einigung ist eigentlich der 24. November. Als wichtige Wegmarke gelten die Zwischenwahlen in den USA Anfang November.

Steinmeier betonte nach seinem etwa 45-minütigen Treffen mit dem als gemäßigt geltenden iranischen Präsidenten, in den vergangenen Monaten habe es durchaus Fortschritte gegeben. «Jetzt ist es an der Zeit, den Abschluss zu suchen.» Zugleich dämpfte er Hoffnungen auf einen baldigen Durchbruch. «Der letzte Teil der Strecke, der jetzt noch vor uns liegt, ist vielleicht der schwerste. Es sind noch Hürden zu überwinden.»

Von iranischer Seite gab es zu dem Treffen zunächst keinen Kommentar. Irans Vize-Außenminister Abbas Araghchi sagte jedoch, insgesamt habe sich sein Land von den Verhandlungen in New York mehr erhofft. «Bei den Streitpunkten haben wir immer noch erhebliche Differenzen», wurde Araghchi von iranischen Medien zitiert.

Vollständiger Artikel

Twenty Questions for Iranian President Hassan Rouhani

Iran's President Hassan Rouhani arrives at the United Nations in New York.Iranian President Hassan Rouhani landed in New York on Monday and began a blitz of media and official meetings on the sidelines of the annual United Nations General Assembly sessions. During his stay, Rouhani will engage with carefully selected groups of journalists, academics, and business people. He will undoubtedly be queried on a wide variety of topics, including the U.S. air campaign against militant groups in Iraq and Syria, the nuclear negotiations, and his first-year track record. He may also be probed about his views of the Holocaust, an issue that his predecessor Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and other Iranian leaders have often used to stoke controversy, and about the steady drumbeat of human rights abuses committed by the Iranian government, including the July arrest of an Iranian-American correspondent for the Washington Post.

Rouhani brings to these conversations the sharp debate skills of his varied experience — as a cleric, a bureaucrat, and a retail politician who served five terms in Iran’s boisterous parliament. His performance in televised interviews and press conferences, as well as his compelling memoir of the early nuclear negotiations, demonstrate that unlike Ahmadinejad, he is capable of engaging in a genuine give-and-take. Here are some of the questions I’d put to Iran’s president during his U.S. visit this week:

  1. Eighteen months ago, when you were considering a bid for the presidency, you noted that “conditions [within Iran] are ripe for a moderate way of thinking.” Do you still believe this to be the case, and can moderate leadership overcome the continuing role of those Iranian political forces that advocate more extreme policies?
  2. Each of your predecessors has experienced significant difficulties in advancing his agenda due to domestic opposition in his second term, if not earlier. Do you think you can avoid a similar fate?
  3. Your presidency follows 16 years when the executive branch was led by men who were, in very different fashion, quite polarizing within the Iranian establishment, reformist Mohammad Khatami and hard-liner Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. You have sought to carve out a less factionalized presidency, one that draws upon the entire political elite from hard-liners to reformists. But you have experienced vocal opposition to many of your policies and appointees. Is it possible to transcend Iran’s well-entrenched factionalism?
  4. You worked closely with Mir Husayn Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi in their respective roles as prime minister and speaker of the parliament during the 1980s and 1990s. They have now spent more than three and a half years under a very severe form of house arrest. Have you personally sought to secure their release?
  5. You have openly advocated expanding internet access and removing filtering and other forms of censoring the web. However, there is still powerful opposition within both the government itself and among many prominent clerics, and Iranians are still forced to use circumvention techniques to access applications like Twitter that you and your ministers use routinely. How can your government overcome the objections within the political establishment to unfettered internet access and, more broadly to lifting other restrictions on freedom of speech?
  6. Your economic agenda has sought to mitigate the impact of sanctions while your diplomacy has focused on eliminating them. Do you believe that Iran could survive and prosper if the current sanctions remain in place indefinitely? If there is no agreement, and new sanctions are imposed targeting Iran’s remaining oil exports, can your efforts to create jobs and growth while reducing inflation succeed?
  7. What role, if any, did the behind-the-scenes talks between U.S. and Iranian officials that took place prior to your June 2013 election have in persuading Iranian leaders that it was time for a shift in their approach to the nuclear negotiations?
  8. If a comprehensive agreement cannot be reached by the November 24 deadline, would you support efforts to continue diplomacy with the P5+1? How will Iran react if a deal is not concluded and the U.S. Congress moves to adopt new unilateral sanctions against Iran?
  9. Having personally led the negotiations on the nuclear issue in the early years of this impasse, do you support proposals by some Iranian officials to link the nuclear talks with cooperation on the regional crisis? Would broadening the agenda of the negotiations with the P5+1 be constructive or would it undermine the prospects for resolving either set of issues?
  10. Do you have confidence in President Obama’s capability to fulfill any commitments made as part of a comprehensive nuclear agreement? Are you concerned about the U.S. electoral cycle, and the possibility that the president’s successor may not be willing to adhere to a deal?
  11. You recently told an American interviewer that a “close relationship between the two nations [Iran and the United States] can resolve many problems…We have to look at future more than the past.” Are there issues on which you believe Washington and Tehran could engage constructively or even cooperate? Would you support revising the “no contact” policy that both governments still adhere to in all diplomatic interactions except for the nuclear talks?
  12. You have described the U.S.-led coalition against ISIS as “ridiculous” and this week’s airstrikes on the group’s positions in Syria as “illegal.” Are there any conditions under which Tehran would support a political solution to the Syrian civil war that removed Bashar al Assad and his inner circle from government? Given Iran’s longstanding alliance with the Assad regime and the horrifying toll of this conflict on the Syrian people and the security of the region, what is Iran prepared to do to facilitate an end to the bloodshed?
  13. This week marks the 34th anniversary of the Iraqi invasion of Iran. How did this experience shape your view of the world, and that of other revolutionary leaders? Since you, like the supreme leader and many other senior Iranian officials, were deeply involved with the war effort, how do you view Iran’s relationship with Iraq and role in Iraqi politics today? Is it possible for Iran play a constructive role in building a democratic, nonsectarian Iraq?
  14. In Yemen, Houthi rebels who have long been backed by Tehran have just ousted the country’s prime minister. Will you support a democratic, inclusive Yemeni government? How will the shift in Yemen impact your efforts to promote rapprochement with Riyadh?
  15. During your New York stay, you are scheduled to meet with David Cameron, a first for an Iranian president and a British prime minister since the revolution. Last year, you spoke with President Obama by telephone during your UNGA visit. Can these unprecedented personal overtures to the leaders of countries with which Iran’s relations have been strained provide a pathway to a durable bilateral rapprochement?
  16. In recent weeks, there have been news reports of several sizeable trade deals signed by Iranian and Russian officials. Do you see Moscow as an attractive economic and strategic partner for Iran? Based on your long bilateral history, and Russia’s performance in the construction of the Bushehr power plant, do you have confidence in Moscow’s reliability to fulfill its commitments to Iran?
  17. Iran has recently undertaken joint naval exercises with China in the Persian Gulf. Would Iran welcome a more substantial role for China in ensuring the security of energy flow from the region?
  18. Earlier this year, there was a controversy surrounding Iran’s nominee for its United Nations envoy, Hamid Aboutalebi, over his role as a translator to the students who overran the U.S. Embassy in Tehran in November 1979 and held its staff hostage for 444 days. President Obama signed a bill with overwhelming Congressional support to reject Mr. Aboutalebi’s visa request. Mr. Aboutalebi continues to serve as your deputy chief of staff for political affairs and an important advisor. Were you surprised that the Embassy seizure remains such a sensitive issue for Americans? Will Iran nominate another individual in his place?
  19. Beyond the Iranian diaspora community, there is still very limited direct contact between Americans and Iranians today. In 2006, one of your predecessors, Mohammad Khatami, engaged in a U.S. speaking tour. If you could invite one American – a politician, a business leader, or a cultural figure – to Iran to see the country and hear from its people first-hand, who would that be?
  20. You were awarded a doctoral degree by Glasgow Caledonian University, which makes you the first Iranian president since Abolhassan Bani Sadr, who was impeached and forced to flee the country in July 1981, to have studied in the West. How does that impact your views of Iran’s relations with the world? Would you advise future Iranian leaders to explore opportunities to study in Europe, America or elsewhere in the world?

Source:

Traditional elements shine in Iran’s modern art

Artist Gizella Varga-Sinai sits next to her painting, “Mazenderan(North 5)” June 28, 2009. (photo by Gizella Varga-Sinai)

Gizella Varga-Sinai’s artwork doesn’t simply boast beauty, it recites poetry in volumes. Her “Kallehpaz” — one of the hundreds of paintings reflecting her love of Iran, Persian culture and everyday life — has found a permanent home at the George Pompidou Cultural Center in Paris.

Varga-Sinai has lived in Iran since 1967. Originally Hungarian, her passion for Persian culture probably exceeds most cultured Iranian artists. She speaks Farsi fluently with an elegant and poetic choice of words, yet with a perfect grasp of modern everyday literature.

The artist’s newest project is an amazing series of work exhibited in several countries and soon to be unveiled in Tehran. While working on this project, she is also passionately pursuing two other cultural projects. One is a short film for an upcoming festival in Tehran, a project she agreed to do to encourage Iranian youths to pursue the arts. She will also spend some time in the south of Iran to work on an art project about the Persian Gulf.

When asked in a telephone interview with Al-Monitor about young and rising Iranian artists, Varga-Sinai says, “We professional veterans need to work hard to keep up. There are so many promising young artists in today’s Iran. Some of them have this new hobby of meeting up and gathering in art galleries. A large number of upscale modern art galleries have sprung upon the artistic scene of Tehran over the recent year. Most exhibitions open on Fridays, when people are off work and traffic is surmountable. A lot of young artists and art lovers have set this tradition of meeting up at these art galleries. Girls doll up and boys dress impeccably, and they spend their Friday afternoons seeing art and mingling. It’s amazing.”

I ask Varga-Sinai about the current condition of the arts in Iran, and whether she has observed any notable developments under the presidency of Hassan Rouhani. She replies, “During [Mahmoud] Ahmadinejad’s presidency, pretty much everything in the artistic sphere was on hold. There was no activity. Over the past year, however, fresh blood is running into the veins of modern arts and artistic events in Iran. A lot has already evolved, and much is changing for the better.”

Varga-Sinai recently unveiled her travel book on Georgia, about her first trip to the country. She tells me she found it a great experience. She says, “Although the country is so close to Iran and I travel so much, I had never been there before. I love the post-socialist freedom that has brought about so many artistic virtues in Georgia, particularly among the youth. I related to that entire ambience.”

Gizella Varga-Sinai was born in Budapest at the height of World War II. The story of her life, family and upbringing is a one-of-a-kind tale spiced with everlasting longing to discover the East and yearning to decode the West. She moved to Vienna and then to Iran with her renowned filmmaker husband, Khosrow Sinai, and eventually called Tehran her home and herself Gizella Varga-Sinai.

Varga-Sinai is an artist I know well, and I have lived through the decade of not seeing her by following her artwork. She is a true artist who lives art, practices painting and preaches poetry distant from the conventional narcissism and negativity of many artists. She’s modest and cheerful and ever ready to explore and experience. So when she gathers this all into a collection reflecting her worldwide travels throughout the years, accentuating elements that have affected her work, the collection becomes a must-see.

“The last bit I’ve added to the bits and pieces symbolizing my life over the years is a copy of my national card [a relatively recent addition to Iranians’ personal identification documents]. The strong point of this exhibition is that it could be folded up and then spread out fairly easily. So it’s quite portable, although showing it with all the installation along with it requires ample space.”

In this new collection of Varga-Sinai’s art, you see her wearing slip-on shoes and carrying her brown suitcase with a maple leaf on it. She is placing her belongings and her faith in the suitcase en route to Vienna from Budapest, on the “Viennese Waltz,” the name of the train running over the Danube between Budapest and Vienna. At an exhibition in Budapest, her daughter played her as a young aspiring dreamer. She herself was, of course, the eternal dreamer, present in the exhibition as the Varga-Sinai of today. She says she would love to show her recent work in the United States and is open to invitations to exhibit the collection.

Varga-Sinai calls herself a “Hungarian wanderer in Iran,” which is the title of her newest batch of artwork as well. She knows Iran very well, and always speaks of the Iranian cultural, literary and natural elements that have helped shape her work over the years. She used to visit Hungary more often, when her mother was alive. In recent years and in the wake of her mother’s passing, however, she has been visiting her homeland less frequently, and has been staying more in Iran — her other and beloved homeland, as she calls it.

One of Varga-Sinai’s new creations is what she refers to as her “magical veil.” On it, she has printed pictures of herself over the years and in the countries where she has lived, and elaborated on them with symbols of those countries and those eras. Her passport photo (in a socialist Hungarian passport, symbolizing her country as she left it), her picture combined with the lion-and-sun symbol of the Iranian flag before the revolution, and a copy of her Iranian national card are among the images. I ask her the reason she chose a white veil to collect all these symbols and elements. Varga-Sinai replied, “It bears a feeling of home, of Iran and my love of Iran. Traditional Iranian women still wear a white veil with a colored floral print when they want to go outside the house in the yard, or to run a quick errand nearby. This is the familiar veil, the chador. And mine bears its imprinted magic of the years and times.”

Gizella Varga-Sinai is an artistic phenomenon. Once, years ago, she told me, “Hungarians used to be nomads, and I think that may be the root of my passion for the East, and for Iran. Who knows? Perhaps, in another life, I was born and bred in Iran.”

Source: AL-Monitor

Drought triggers protests in Iran

Fun boats lie on the bank of the dried-up Zayanderood River in Esfahan, 450 kilometers (281 miles) south of Tehran, June 27, 2008.  (photo by REUTERS/Morteza Nikoubazl)

Drought triggers protests in Iran

The water crisis in Iran, where several important rivers and lakes have dried up, has become so seriousthat in certain areas of the country, citizens have been demonstrating and protesting to express their concern.

From the early hours of the morning on Aug. 30, thousands of residents of Esfahan and the smaller cities and villages nearby demonstrated near Zayanderood River, holding placards, protesting the drying up of Zayanderood and officials not paying proper attention to this issue.

Zayanderood is the biggest river of the central Iranian plateau and is 200 kilometers (124 miles) in length. It starts in the Zagros Mountains, particularly the Zard Kuh Bakhtiari Mountain, crosses the central Iran desert toward the east and, after passing the city of Esfahan, eventually ends in the Gavekhuni swamp. After 14 consecutive years of drought, climate change and mismanagement, parts of the river in areas near Esfahan have turned into dry riverbed.

Mohammad Reza, an environmental activist who took part in this demonstration, said, “The number of residents who had turned up for the demonstration was astonishing. It is beautiful to see that people care this much about the future of our water resources and environment, and it is tragic that the officials refuse to seriously look for a solution to this crisis.”

According to Reza, the demonstration was peaceful. People were chanting, “We only want water” and “Where is my river Zayanderood?” This last slogan, however, shows that the demonstrators have yet to forget the protests following the 2009 presidential elections. In those demonstrations, people protested the contested election by chanting: “Where is my vote?”

The water crisis of Zayanderood will have terrible consequences, including the destruction of the river’s ecosystem, loss of different life forms and destruction of wells and streams. It will also destroy agriculturearound the river and will deeply affect the industrial sector as well.

In March 2013, a group of farmers had staged a demonstration protesting the drying up of Zayanderood. In June, a group of residents of East and West Azerbaijan provinces held a similar demonstrationprotesting the drying up of Lake Urmia.

It appears, however, that the water crisis is not unique to Azerbaijan or Esfahan. Back in May, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani’s minister of energy, Hamidreza Chitchian, issued a serious warning on the future of water in Iran: “In the past 10 years, we witnessed the average rainfall in the country drop from 250 millimeters (9.8 inches) to 242 millimeters (9.5 inches), and we are facing serious problems regarding our water and water sources.”

On Aug. 19, the CEO of Iran Water Resources Management Company, Mohammad Hajrasooliha, cited a 52% drop in surface runoff — the water from precipitation and other sources that moves across the earth’s surface — and had said that at the end of the fourth month of the year, after a drop of about 10% compared to the previous year, the amount of surface runoff in the country had fallen to 39.267 billion cubic meters. He said, “Last year, the number was 42.442 billion cubic meters.”

It is notable that only four months prior to this, in April, Hajrasooliha had presented a different set of numbers and had said: “The amount of surface water in the country had been estimated to be about 90 billion cubic meters, but the real amount is only 55-60 billion cubic meters.”

An environmental expert who lives in Tehran told Al-Monitor, “People are alarmed. The numbers are different, but according to the Ministry of Energy the amount of renewable water has dropped drastically, almost by 50%, in the post-revolution decades.”

In 1979, the amount of water allocated for each individual was 4,000-4,500 cubic meters. Right now, the number is less than 1,500 cubic meters, more or less. We are witnessing a serious drop. The population has grown and the underground water sources are shrinking due to illegal and irregular exploitation, and currently we don’t have anything to replace these water sources.

Chitchian has also said that underground water sources are shrinking. At the end of a session in parliament, Chitchian told members of parliament, “Unfortunately, there are a lot of illegal wells and even those with the proper license have been exploited beyond their sustainable level. This has resulted in a drop of about 100 billion cubic meters in the static underground water supplies. The number has reached 11 billion [cubic meters] in the past year.”

Chitchian said, “The presidents who took office in the post Iran-Iraq war era, Hashemi Rafsanjani, [Mohammad] Khatami and [Mahmoud] Ahmadinejad, were all interested in structural management and thus destroyed the crucial water sources and the underground water supplies and none of them are taking any responsibility for their actions.”

On Aug. 24, Masoumeh Ebtekar, the head of the Iranian Department of Environment, warned that environmental problems in Tehran have reached a critical level. She said Tehran had reached its ecological limit in 1996 and any industrial expansion in Tehran should have been stopped after 1996.

According to Ebtekar, natural resources in Tehran are being exploited seven times more than their normal capacity. Given that in Tehran the amount of drinking water is limited, experts have issued serious warnings in the past few months regarding the level of nitrate in the drinking water in Tehran.

State-owned media, including IRIB, repeatedly ask citizens to use water economically. This is while Parviz Fattah, who served as the minister of energy during Ahmadinejad’s first term as president, had said thatagricultural use accounts for 92% of Iran water usage, and that “on average, only 70% of water should be used for agriculture and therefore the numbers show that Iran has 22% more water usage than the international average.”

Although government officials constantly warn about water crisis and drought, they are yet to introduce a serious solution or management method that would help solve the water crisis. However, on Sept. 6, Ebtekar said that Rouhani’s administration was trying to help farmers reform their irrigation methods.

A senior professor of sociology at Tehran University told Al-Monitor, “All these years we were discussing economy, politics, society and democracy. Now, however, these discussions all sound absurd to me. Given the current situation, we will either die of thirst or run away. I am no longer sure there was any point in all those discussions.”

Source: AL-Monitor

SN| Britin im Iran wegen Volleyballspiel inhaftiert

Weil sie ein Volleyballspiel des iranischen Nationalteams sehen wollte, sitzt eine 25-jährige Britin seit drei Monaten in einem Gefängnis in Teheran.

Britin im Iran wegen Volleyballspiel inhaftiert

Seit drei Monaten sitzt die Britin in Teheran fest.

BILD: SN/APA (ARCHIV/EPA)/ABEDIN TAHERKEN

Das berichtete die britische Zeitung “The Times” am Freitag. Die Eltern der jungen Frau seien erst jetzt damit an die Presse gegangen, weil sie die iranischen Behörden nicht gegen sich hätten aufbringen wollen.

Die Britin war im Juni festgenommen worden, als sie mit anderen Frauen in das Teheraner Stadion gehen wollte. Weibliche Zuschauer sind im Iran zu Sportveranstaltungen mit Männern nicht zugelassen. Die Frauen wurden festgenommen, kurz darauf aber wieder freigelassen. Als die 25-Jährige weniger Tage später zur Polizeiwache ging, um ihre persönlichen Dinge abzuholen, wurde sie erneut inhaftiert.

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