The Iranian Diaspora Brief

The Iranian Diaspora Brief: September 13, 2021

Top Stories

Kurdish Villagers Fear For Safety As Iran Bombs Erbil’s Mountains For A Third Day | Rudaw

Iranian forces bombed the mountains around a village in northeast Erbil province on Saturday, terrifying local residents, according to the head of the village. Kurdish forces say it was an airstrike on the third day of attacks by Iran on Kurdish opposition groups based in the Kurdistan Region. “Since 4am, Iran has been regularly bombarding the mountains in the vicinity of Barbzin, creating fear among the villagers. The lives of people who own livestock and farmers are in danger,” Mohammed Majid, mukhtar (chieftain) of the village, told Rudaw.

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Nobel Laureates Call For Inquiry Over Iran Prison Massacres | The National

Twenty-five Nobel prize winners are calling on UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres to set up a new investigation into the massacres 33 years ago of thousands of prisoners in Iran. The group, which includes 1996 peace prize winner Jose Ramos-Horta, said the inquiry was needed more than ever because of the role of new president Ebrahim Raisi in death committees that sent regime opponents to the gallows. An estimated 5,000 inmates, mainly those linked to the Mujahideen-e-Khalq opposition movement and left-wing critics, were killed in 32 cities in a matter of weeks at the end of the Iran-Iraq war.

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More Brutal Than ‘Godforsaken Hell’: Prisoner Tweets Details Of Iran Prison Abuse | Iran International

In a series of tweets Wednesday, civil and labor rights activist and author Sepideh Gholian, currently on furlough from prison in Bushehr province, made detailed allegation of abuse of prisoners in the women’s ward. Gholian wrote that she had received no response to reporting 20 cases to the authorities, including five she had described in tweets. “I knew I would face a godforsaken hell when I was banished to this prison last year,” wrote 25-year-old Gholian, who was sent to Bushehr prison in early March from Evin prison in Tehran. “But I couldn’t even imagine the brutality reigning in this prison.”

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Regime Abuses

Remembering Wrestler Navid Afkari, A Year After Iran Murdered Him – Analysis | Jerusalem Post

September 12, 2021, marks a year since the Islamic Republic of Iran’s hangmen rushed to execute champion Greco-Roman wrestler Navid Afkari, merely because he dared protest against the theocratic state’s political and economic corruption. The Jerusalem Post recognized the story’s great importance and punched well above its weight in drawing global attention to Afkari’s grim plight in the lead-up to his early morning extrajudicial killing, before major international news outlets reported on the story.

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‘I Don’t Feel Safe’: Iranian Journalist Pressured By IRGC After Fleeing To Turkey | Radio Free Europe

Iranian journalist Masoud Kazemi was exultant when he was released from Tehran’s notorious Evin prison in April 2020. “The nightmare is officially over,” tweeted Kazemi, the former editor of the monthly magazine Sedaye Parsi, posting a photo of the prison where he had been held for 300 days. Little did he know that a new nightmare was about to begin. Following Kazemi’s release, the feared intelligence branch of the powerful Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) repeatedly summoned him and tried to force him to “cooperate.”

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Baha’i Assemblies In Iran: Those Who Were Kidnapped And Those Who Were Shot By Firing Squad | Iran Press Watch

August 30 is the International Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearances. Coercive and political disappearances is a continuing issue in Iran. Among the most well-known of forced disappearances in Iran is of nine members of the National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha’is of Iran (NSA), along with two counselors in charge of the Baha’i community.  The arrests were made by armed forces on Naft Street in Tehran on 21 August 1980.  This was the first NSA formed following the revolution, and the first arrested by the new regime in Iran.

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Iranian Regime Women’s Affairs Vice President Supports Child Marriage | The Jerusalem Post

Iran’s newly appointed vice president for women and family affairs advocates the marriage of children in defiance of human rights critics who see the practice as sexual exploitation and abuse of young girls. Iranian president Ebrahim Raisi designated Ansieh Khazali earlier this month as the new official for women’s affairs. She confirmed the announcement in a September 2 tweet, writing an Arabic verse from the Koran, according to the news website IranWire.

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More Signs Show Iran’s Intention To Cut Large Subsidies | Iran International

A new sign pointing to a desire by Iran’s new government to reduce billion-dollar subsidies and cash handouts to tens of millions of Iranians has emerged this week. The Majlis Research Center in a report released Wednesday has proposed replacing cash handouts with payments-in-kind linked to items such as milk, housing, education and healthcare. The report, “Investigating Supportive Policies,” says it has examined the “quasi-cash subsidies” model in the United States(link is external) and other countries of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) where such subsidies it says constitute an average 6 percent of government spending.

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In The News

Iran-Backed Hezbollah Tightens Its Grip On Sinking Lebanon | Bloomberg

The most basic foods have become political assets in economically devastated Lebanon. And no one’s tapped that currency of oil, milk and bread like Iran-backed Hezbollah. Designated a terrorist group by the U.S., it has galvanized its power by taking on more functions of a state hollowed out by an imploding economy and sectarian feuding. By offering food, cash and medical services amid widespread poverty in this once-middle class nation, the Shiite Muslim group has become a lifeline for many.

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Iran Reformists And Principlists Trade Barbs Over Afghanistan | Iran International

Former reformist President Mohammad Khatami in a statement Friday joined the discussion over Iran’s approach to Afghanistan by suggesting the make-up of the Taliban interim cabinet showed it was “unreasonable” to expect the movement to change. Khatami’s opposition to “foreign interference” apparently responded to principlists mocking reformists for suggesting Iran should support the National Resistance Front (NRF), which says it continues to fight the Taliban in Panjshir province.

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Women Are Leading The Battle For Iran’s Future | Arab News

As the Iranian regime prepares to confront a host of domestic crises by installing Ebrahim Raisi as president, it finds itself fighting another losing battle, this time against growing resistance at home and a determined opposition force seeking its overthrow. This seminal battle stands to define Iran’s future, and with it, the fate of the Middle East, which is now threatened by the Tehran regime’s religious extremism as well as by its militia, terror and proxy groups. Since 2017, the regime has been shocked by at least four major popular uprisings against its shaky extremist rule.

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Social Media Users Condemn Unlawful Deadly Police Force Against Karaj Man | Center For Human Rights In Iran

Video footage showing a policeman unlawfully shooting a suspect in the Mehrshahr district of Karaj, a city west of Tehran, was met with widespread condemnation on social media networks by Persian speakers who condemned the use of excessive force. A video clip shared on Twitter shows a policeman overpowering a man and firing a shot at close range; the victim later died in a hospital. Iranian authorities have not officially released his name but unverified reports on social media identified him as Morteza Jafari. Shortly after the incident on September 4, 2021, the police chief in Alborz Province, Abbasali Mohammadian, claimed “a bullet was accidentally fired and struck the suspect… when a policeman took him to the ground and was trying to handcuff him.”

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Houthi Missiles, Drones Target Yemen’s Mocha Port | Arab News

Missiles and explosive-laden drones fired by the Iran-backed Houthi militia on Saturday ripped through the Red Sea port of Al-Mocha, causing damage to infrastructure and igniting a warehouse fire, the official state news agency SABA reported. Abdul Malik Al-Sharabae, the port’s manager, said that the Houthis fired four missiles and three exploding drones at the port, damaging recently repaired infrastructure and starting a fire that destroyed goods belonging to local merchants and aid organizations. Two of the drones were reportedly intercepted and shot down over the local town of Mocha before reaching their target.

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Family Of Executed Iranian Jewish Businessman Still Seeks Justice, 40 Years Later | Forward

Fakhri Gedooshim, an 85-year-old Iranian Jewish widow and grandmother living in Beverly Hills, still weeps uncontrollably when recalling the horror she and her family faced when her late husband Mansour was executed by Iran’s Islamic regime 40 years ago this month. With the anniversary of her husband’s killing on September 20, Gedooshim said she decided to share the story of her husband’s arrest and execution with American Jews in hopes of raising awareness of the antisemitic and dangerous nature of the Iranian regime with which the current Biden administration is negotiating a nuclear deal. “My message to the American Jewish community is do not trust this Islamic regime in Iran,” said Gedooshim. “They killed my husband for only one reason— he was a Jew.”

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Iranian Citizens Political Confidence In Government Is In Rapid Decline | Iran Focus

Earlier this week Iran’s state media published acknowledgments of Iran’s current crises and warned Iran’s government of the reactions of frustrated Iranian citizens. The state-run Setare-Sobh daily wrote on September 6 that Iran is currently facing a large shortage of vaccines, with many large vaccination centers being closed. Those that are still open only have enough stocks for the first doses of the Covo-Barakat vaccine. Hamdeli daily said, “While we were discussing the matter, other countries built and exported vaccines. They succeeded in reducing the Covid-19 fatalities, and the life [in those countries] is close to becoming normal as before the pandemic. Yet, we thought we would produce 50 million doses of Covid-19 vaccines by September.”

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Rights Group Launches Encryption App To Help Iranians Survive Internet Crackdowns | Vice

A California-based nonprofit has released an encryption app it hopes will help Iranians bypass the regime’s internet shutdowns and communicate securely. Nahoft – Farsi for “hidden” – allows Android users to encrypt any text message under 1,000 characters before sharing it. Internet use is heavily regulated and surveilled in Iran, with thousands of websites banned including Facebook, Telegram and Twitter. Iran’s 52 million internet-savvy smartphone users have been using VPNs and proxies to avoid government restrictions, but authorities are slowly closing off access to these routes, under the guise of national security and preserving Iran’s morality.

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Why Iran’s 1988 Massacre Still Matters | Asghar Mehdizaeh For The National Interest

It would be difficult to overstate the dismay I felt when Ebrahim Raisi was inaugurated as the next president of Iran, last month. It was a harsh reminder of seeing him as a member of the “Death Commission” in the 1988 massacre of thirty thousand political prisoners. Only a few days after his “election” in response to a foreign journalist regarding his role in the extrajudicial executions, he said he was defending human rights and asked to be praised or even rewarded for his service. I personally bore witness to that massacre when I was about six years into the fifteen-year sentence I received for supporting the Mujahedin-e Khalq (PMOI/MEK) in the aftermath of the 1979 revolution.

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In Iran, Hardline Executioners And Human-Rights Violators Can Run For Presidency | Zana Ghorbani For EU Reporter

The events leading up to Raisi’s election were some of the most blatant acts of government manipulation in Iran’s history.  Mere weeks before the polls opened in late June, the regime’s Guardian Council, the regulatory body under the direct control of Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, swiftly disqualified hundreds of presidential hopefuls including many reformist candidates that had been growing in popularity among the public. Being the regime insider that he is, as well as a close ally of Supreme Leader Khamenei, it was hardly a surprise the government took measures to insure Raisi’s victory.

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Iran’s New Women And Family Affairs Director To Reinforce Inequality | Hamid Enayat For Eurasia Review

Ebrahim Raisi, the Iranian regime’s new president, nominated notorious Ensieh KhazAli as the director of Women and Family Affairs on September 2, becoming the 13th government’s Women and Family Affairs Director. Despite this, the prior directors of the directorate have frequently stated that they lacked executive authority and that even a minor defence of women’s rights would be futile in the mullahs’ patriarchal system. Before KhazAli, the previous leader, Massoumeh Ebtekar, confessed in August 2021 that “there is a sense of discrimination against women due to some approaches to the law, and the existing biases have made this task difficult,” according to the state-run ISNA news agency.

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Non-English Language Media

 احزاب کرد ایرانی مخالف جمهوری اسلامی: تهدیدات سپاە راە چاره نیست؛ خواست مردم را برآورده کنند| Voice Of America

احزاب کرد ایرانی مخالف جمهوری اسلامی در اقلیم کردستان می‌گویند تهدیدات سپاە پاسداران نه چیز تازه‌ای است و نه راە حل مشکلات است، بلکە راهکار برآوردە کردن خواست مردم است. به گزارش سوران خاطری، خبرنگار صدای آمریکا از سلیمانیە کردستان عراق، جمهوری اسلامی ایران می‌گوید احزاب کرد از خاک اقلیم کردستان برای عملیات نظامی علیه ایران استفادە می‌کنند و بر همین اساس، از اربیل و بغداد خواستە تا این احزاب را از عراق اخراج کنند. احزاب کرد ضمن رد ادعاهای جمهوری اسلامی ایران می‌گویند از چند مقر خود در نزدیکی مرز خارج شدەاند، اما حکومت کردستان از آنها نخواستە است کە مقرهای مرکزی خود را تعطیل کنند و حمله به آنها کلید حل مشکلات نیست. کمال کریمی، عضو دفتر سیاسی حزب دموکرات کردستان ایران، گفت: «جمهوری اسلامی اگر واقعا می‌داند کە مرکز احزاب کردی در داخل اقلیم کردستان این جریانات و حرکات داخل کردستان ایران را رهبری می‌کنند، خوب چند سالی است کە دم از مذاکرە می‌زند و ادعا می‌کند که با احزاب کردی در حال مذاکرە است، خوب باشد! این می‌تواند یکی از راە‌حل‌ها باشد کە جمهوری اسلامی بتوان این مشکلات را پایان بدهد.  

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 حقوق شهروندی | بازداشت ۷۹ عضو یک گروه گردشگری؛ محکومیت بازداشت و تهدید فعالان کارگری| Voice Of America

بنا بر اخبار منتشر شده در شبکه‌های اجتماعی و رسانه‌های ایران، طی روزهای گذشته ۷۹ عضو یک گروه گردشگری به اتهام «ترویج عرفان‌های کاذب نوظهور» بازداشت شدند، دو سوخت‌بر اهل پاکستان توسط نیروهای سپاه در نقطه صفر مرزی کشته شدند، و سندیکای کارگران نیشکر هفت تپه بازداشت و تهدید فعالان کارگری را محکوم کرد. به گزارش خبرگزاری ایسنا عزیزالله ملکی، فرمانده انتظامی گیلان، از بازداشت ۷۹ عضو یک گروه گردشگری در استان گیلان خبر داد و گفت، این افراد در فضای مجازی از طریق «کلاهبرداری، دریافت وجه، و برپایی تورهای گردشگری غیرمجاز … عرفان‌های کاذب نوظهور» را تبلیغ می‌کردند. سرکوب اقلیت‌های مذهبی و عقیدتی، از جمله پیروان عرفان‌های نوظهور، در جمهوری اسلامی سابقه‌ای طولانی دارد. در بخشی از گزارش سالانه وزارت خارجه آمریکا که روز چهارشنبه ۲۲ اردیبهشت منتشر شد، نقض حقوق اقلیت‌های مذهبی در ایران به تفصیل بررسی شده است.

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 سالگرد اعدام نوید افکاری و ادامه فشارها بر خانواده او| The Independent

یک سال پس از اجرای غیرمنتظره حکم اعدام نوید افکاری، فشارها بر خانواده افکاری همچنان ادامه دارد. وحید و حبیب، دو برادرش، همچنان در سلول انفرادی به‌سر می‌برند، سعید و الهام، برادر و خواهر دیگر او نیز مورد ضرب‌وشتم نیروهای امنیتی قرار گرفتند و سعید برای چند ساعت بازداشت شد. علاوه‌بر تهدید خانواده افکاری برای برگزار نکردن مراسم سالگرد، گزارش‌هایی از حضور نیروهای امنیتی در روستای سنگر استان فارس، محل دفن نوید افکاری، و همچنین تهدید برخی بستگان و آشنایان آن‌ها و فعالان مدنی به دستگیری در صورت حضور بر سر مزار نوید افکاری در روز ۲۲ شهریورماه، منتشر شده است. نوید افکاری، کارگر ۲۷ ساله‌ای که ورزش کشتی را نیز به‌طور حرفه‌ای دنبال می‌کرد، پس از اعتراض‌های مرداد ۱۳۹۷ در شیراز دستگیر و صبح روز ۲۲ شهریور  ۱۳۹۹ با وجود ابهام‌های اساسی در پرونده، بدون اجرای تشریفات مربوط به اعدام، ازجمله دیدار خانواده، در زندان عادل‌آباد شیراز اعدام و شبانه دفن شد.

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