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January 06 2014

A Year of Campaigns for Iran

Just Access

A photo from Just Access, a campaign by Arseh Sevom to highlight the effect of sanctions on ordinary Iranians.

Iranians witnessed two major political events in 2013: The election of a new president and the beginnings of a nuclear deal. Both of them kindled hope in the hearts of many Iranians for a better, less painful future.

Meanwhile, repression and censorship continues in the country: from the filtering of WeChat to the mass arrest of tech people and poets.

Several internet campaigns launched throughout 2013 with diverse topics ranging from fighting cancer to making fun of the Israeli Prime Minister; from protecting dogs to campaigning for a fictional presidential candidate.

A Common Enemy

Two Iranian cinema stars, one inside the country and one in exile, joined efforts in an online campaign to support compatriots suffering from cancer.

In May, Bahram Radan in Iran joined former co-star, Golshifteh Farahani, now living in exile in Paris, in a video on YouTube as part of a campaign to save the life of Shahrzad, a fellow Iranian suffering from Acute Myeloid Leukaemia (AML).

Act Like Man, Dress Like a Woman

Several Kurdish men have photograph themselves dressed as women as part of a Facebook campaign to say, “Being a woman is not an instrument to punish or humiliate anybody.” The photos appeared on a Facebook page named “Kurd Men for Equality”. The story began when a man dressed in a red dress was paraded by security forces through the streets of Marivan in the Kurdistan province of Iran in April as punishment by a local court for a domestic dispute.

manwoman-253x300

#IranJeans: Yes We Do Wear Jeans

In October, Iranians flooded the internet with posts, tweets and photos as they mocked the Prime Minister of Israel, Benjamian Netanyahu's remark that Iranians are not free to wear jeans.

jeans_Iran (1)

Fictional Character for Presidential Election

In May,the activist website United4Iran and the serial web comic Zahra's Paradise launched the virtual campaign “Zahra For President 2013″ to expose Iran's corrupt political system through satire.

zahra2-375x137

Just Access

A combination of international sanctions and mismanagement by the Iranian government are blamed for the current state of medical chaos in Iran.
JUST ACCESS by human rights organisation Arseh Sevom was one campaign launched to restore access to medication, humanitarian goods, and other non-sanctioned items for people living in Iran.

Global Voices recently reported on the medical situation in Iran by interviewing Iranians inside country.

justacces

Saving “Best Friends”

A non-governmental shelter for stray dogs, Pardis Animal Shelter, in Tabriz started its work at the end of October along with a virtual publicity campaign. Iran's authorities frown on dog ownership and dogs generally. On their Facebook page the shelter say they wish, “To be the voice and shelter for voiceless and defenseless creatures!”

Pardise animal shelter Facebook page

Pardise animal shelter Facebook page

January 04 2014

Iran: What is the Next Stage of Filtering?

Milad tweeted with irony that the next stage of filtering in Iran is cutting the electricity to prevent everyone from using any technology.

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December 29 2013

Iran: Two Poets Arrested

Poets Mehdi Mousavi and Fatemeh Ekhtesari disappeared in Iran. News reported that the two have been detained since early December. More than two hundred people signed an online petition and called on the UN to take action about the situation of cultural activists particularly the case of these two young poets in Iran.

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December 23 2013

Iran: Calligraphy Art

Farrah Joon tweeted about Iranian female artist,Azra Aghighi Bakhshayeshi.You can see her calligraphic oil paintings of Arabic lettering here.

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Iran: Revolutionary Guards “Hacked” Opposition Sites

Revolutionary Guards in Kerman province claims its cyber forces hacked nine opposition sites. A few weeks ago, several netizens were arrested in Kerman,accused of acting against national security and collaborating with foreign networks, providing content for counter-revolutionary sites.

Chat is a Dirty Word in Iran? WeChat Blocked

WeChat

Internet service providers in the Islamic Republic have blocked access to WeChat say reports on several news sites and blogs [fa]. WeChat is an application that enables smartphone users to connect to online social networks. While the Iranian president himself, and at least a couple of his ministers use different social media platforms themselves to communicate with followers, Iranian citizens are banned from access to sites like Facebook.

Iran Vatan Dust tweeted [fa] about the news:

Next thing will be that they try to filter people's thoughts.

Faaar Ranak tweeted [fa]:

It does not matter whether you use WeChat or not. The main problem is that they are filtering it.

Iranian blogger, Gilboygreen writes [fa]:

Why did the Islamic Republic filtered WeChat? Because they are scared when people talk to each other. Today, possibly [an application] got filtered that symbolized dialogue. What is the reason that people are not allowed to talk to each other? The authorities should answer this question. When a channel to dialogue, to exchange ideas and to communication is blocked, how do you expect people to solve the problems in society via dialogue?… Do not fear the word “chat”. Chat is a simple, human act, accepted in different societies.

Another blogger, 1ironi writes [fa]:

According to non-written law [tradition], whatever product, including food, that comes to Iran from abroad for the first time is banned… There are several examples of this kind of product becoming targets, such as eating tomatos, watching TV [they were all labeled Haram sinful]. Several MPs increased pressure recently to ban WeChat, but we can still use it via psiphon [circumvention software].

Iran-man-massoud blogs with irony pointing a finger to Iran's new president [fa]:

Thank you Rouhani.

Guerres par procuration en Syrie

Deux ans après le début du soulèvement en Syrie, la révolution est détournée par des acteurs régionaux et internationaux aux objectifs contradictoires et souvent mal définis. / Iran, Israël, Proche-Orient, Russie, Syrie, Géopolitique, Histoire, Mouvement de contestation, Nationalisme, Religion, Relations (...) / Iran, Israël, Proche-Orient, Russie, Syrie, Géopolitique, Histoire, Mouvement de contestation, Nationalisme, Religion, Relations internationales, Guerre civile, Indépendance - 2013/06
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December 22 2013

Cartes en colère

En octobre 2012, à l'occasion de la représentation de la pièce de théâtre J'habite une blessure sacrée, adaptée par Mireille Perrier d'après un livre du sociologue Jean Ziegler — La haine de l'Occident —, la Maison des métallos à Paris avait présenté, en résonance, l'exposition d'esquisses cartographiques « en colère » qui réunissait, outre quelques images inédites, des cartes déjà publiées ici et là. Le comédien Joël Lokossou dans le rôle de Nelson Mandela Photo : © Julie Durand, 2012. Le monde vu de... Le (...) - Visions cartographiques / Allemagne, Asie, Chine, Égypte, Iran, Pologne, Art, Économie, Mondialisation, Spéculation, Cartographie, Résistance
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December 15 2013

With No Easy Access to Medicine, Iranians Suffer Sanctions

Medicine shortages are an unintended consequence of sanctions against Iran

Medicine shortages are an unintended consequence of sanctions against Iran. Photo © Copyright Shutterstock

A combination of international sanctions and mismanagement by the Iranian government are blamed for the current state of medical chaos in Iran.

“It’s been five months now that we are looking for an anti-allergy vaccine for my brother,” says one person interviewed by Global Voices about Iran's public health situation. “One of our relatives with cancer cannot find his medicine,” remarked another. “I am struggling to find insulin,” says a diabetic man.

This has been the reality for Iranians since the middle of 2012 after American and European Union banking sanctions were tightened, making it virtually impossible for Iranians to conduct foreign transactions.

Domestic news outlets have reported on the scarcity of medications for illnesses ranging from hepatitis to cancer to hemophilia and polio. Even the availability of anesthetics has been affected.

There have also been deaths from ailments that could have been treated with medication. The death of a 15-year-old hemophiliac boy [date] is one example. 

While this indirect effect of sanctions is not yet widely known internationally, the cause has been championed by activists and netizens with artwork and petitions. In December 2012, the Iranian artist Sanaz Sohrabi even created a performance artwork in front of the United Nations in New York. 

The daily struggle to find affordable medication

“Finding Insulin is so difficult,” says Shahla an Iranian who must use insulin on a daily basis. (Due to potential consequences of speaking to non-Iranian media, we mention people’s first names only). He says patients are forced to purchase insulin at free market prices that are 20 as high as those mandated by the state. Shahla says the Iranian Diabetes Society tries to address the problem by distributing free insulin to doctors that they can give away, but there is only a limited supply. “Whenever I get desperate, I call my doctor and he gives me one or two insulin containers and I use them each for a month,” he says.

In July, the US Treasury Department stated that the U.S. allows for the sale and export of food, medicine and medical devices to Iran in spite of sanctions. Nonetheless, sanctions against banks make it impossible for importers to buy drugs and pharmaceuticals. “It’s as if they tell you that there is a spring from which everybody can drink, but you need to pass through so many obstacles to reach to the spring. It will indirectly stop you,” explains Arash, a businessman who imports pharmaceuticals to Iran.

According to Arash, many have switched to suppliers in Asia (mostly in China and India) to get around the sanctions. Others have continued trading with suppliers in the US and Europe through intermediaries (such as Turkish and United Arab Emirate banks) but Arash says the process is too complicated. ”If you want to do it through currency exchange dealers, you need to spend a lot of money,” he complains.

“Of course in this situation you need to set the price [to the consumer] higher, otherwise you will lose money in the business, but then the government won’t let you increase the price. Therefore, in both cases, you won’t be able to distribute the medicine to the market as fast as needed,” explains Arash.

Several people online have shared the same concerns.

Leila Zadeh tweeted:

Peter Tatchell tweeted:

Shortage of drugs

Besides high prices, the shortage of drugs is a major issue.

Sarah, an Iranian woman whose 6-year old son suffers from severe diabetes, says it has been more than a month since she has been trying to find a specific brand of Insulin for her son. “I went to dozens of pharmacies, but they do not have it, “ she says. “The last time I was finally able to find three insulin containers in one pharmacy.” She says each container is only enough for two to three weeks.

Another Iranian, Sahar, says her sister’s father-in-law suffers from cancer and at the moment finding medicine is a serious struggle. Others repeat her complaints.

In October of last year, Fatemeh Hashemi, the head of Iran’s Charity Foundation for Special Diseases, a non-governmental organization representing six million patients, said the shortage of medicine for a number of diseases such as cancer and multiple sclerosis is “serious” and that lives are at risk.

In March, Kheirollah Gholami, a leading pharmacist from Tehran University’s medical school said anesthetics have either vanished from the market or are difficult to find. “If the situation continues to be like this, we really don’t know what to do. You can’t use a hammer to make patients unconscious,” he told the semi-official Ilna News Agency.

The scarcity of medicine is not simply a problem for serious illnesses, but also affects patients with everyday allergies or pains. “You can only find domestic aspirin which may not be up to standard and can be very dangerous,” explains Amir. He says his doctor recently prescribed him 10 Vitamin D3 pills, which are produced domestically. “I had to buy these 10 pills from four different pharmacies,” says Amir.

The problem still exists

After the temporary nuclear agreement between Iran and the 5+1 world powers in Geneva, the West agreed to ease some sanctions in exchange for Iran agreeing to stop specific aspects of its nuclear program.

In the long run, lifting sanctions could alleviate the difficulties in importing medicine and pharmaceuticals. For now, the problem continues. Arash, the pharmaceutical importer, says that even after financial sanctions are lifted, it will take a long time for Iranian banks to rebuild trust to facilitate business.

But Arash is hopeful. He says finally at least some of the sanctions will be lifted and gradually medicine imports will get back to normal. Until then, the problem will continue to affect the ill and the infirm.

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December 10 2013

« Là-bas si j'y suis » : décembre 2013

Lundi 9 décembre, dans « Là-bas si j'y suis », à 15 heures, sur France Inter, Daniel Mermet s'entretenait avec l'équipe du Monde diplomatique autour du numéro de décembre. Alain Gresh revient dans un premier temps sur la mort de Nelson Mandela, pour rappeler, comme déjà en juillet 2010, que l'icône a (...) / Afrique du Sud, Iran, Nucléaire militaire, Art, Industrie culturelle, Personnalités, Prison, Relations internationales, A propos du « Diplo », Peinture, Jeux vidéo - La valise diplomatique
Reposted bycheg00iranelection

“Digital Hooligans” from Iran Attack Messi's Facebook

Leo Messi's Facebook page

Argentinian footballer Leo Messi's Facebook page

“Digital hooligans” from Iran bombarded thousands of insulting and threatening comments in Persian on the Facebook page of Argentinian football player Lionel Messi as the World Cup groups were determined on Saturday. Argentina, Iran, Bosnia-Herzegovina, and Nigeria were polled together.

Many of the comments use very foul language.

Many Iranians published comments and tweets calling the cyberattack shameful.

Kargadan tweeted [fa]:

Zuckerberg [Facebook's founder] and the Iranian government, should hand in hand clean out Facebook's page of Iranians to save our honor.

Sooskak tweeted [fa]:

It's good that Facebook is filtered [in Iran].

Baridya tweeted [fa]:

If the Islamic Republic collapsed today, it would take 15-20 years for this people's culture to improve.

Blogger 5Char published [fa] a screen shot of insulting comments and says it is typical of a generation that grew up under Islamic Republic.

Another blogger, Andarbab says [fa]:

These people try to make up for their inadequacy with slogans and insults. They are the same people who chant “Down with the USA” yet wish to get a US Green Card. They insult Messi, yet wish to get a souvenir fan photo taken with him.

December 04 2013

Seditious iPhone Reviews? Iran Arrests 7 from Tech News Site

Screen shot of Narenji.ir

Narenji.ir published a list with the names of those arrested, which was quickly removed.

As though Iran were running short of human rights activists to arrest, revolutionary guards have now set their sights on people who write about gadgets.

The technology news website Narenji.ir in Kerman reported on December 3, 2013 that seven of their writers and technical staff were suddenly arrested with no information about where they were taken. A list of names of those arrested was removed from the site a few hours after it was posted (see screen shot).

The way Iran's Mehr News told the story, a total of 16 cyber activists were arrested in Kerman, accused of acting against national security and collaborating with foreign networks, providing content for counter-revolutionary sites.

Nariman Gharib informs us on Twitter that at least one blogger was among those arrested.

He tweeted:

The Islamic Republic has a long record of repressing digital freedoms, but the mass arrest of people writing about gadgets and technology, can be considered a new chapter.

A Facebook campaign has been launched to support Narenji's arrested staff, and netizens tweeted about new wave of arrests.

Ali Nemati Shahab tweeted [fa]:

Narenji's staff were accused of acting against national security… Do not say anything, just pray.

Oriana tweeted [fa]:

The accusations are so ridiculous, we do not know if we should laugh or cry.

AmirHossein tweets [fa]:

Narenji's post writing that revolutionary guards arrested them will cost them a lot.

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Iranian Artist was Arrested

Several netizens reported that Iranian artist and activist for Hassan Rouhani's presidential campaign was arrested several days ago in Iran.Ali Karami tweeted

December 03 2013

Iran's Revolutionary Guards Arrested Several Tech Writers

Narenji, a technology and gadget site, announced seven of its writers and technical staff were arrested by the Iranian Revolutionary Guards.Narenji suspended its activities on Tuesday, second of December.

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December 01 2013

Iran, le dégel

Un accord mobilisant contre lui M. Benyamin Netanyahou, le lobby pro-israélien qui dicte sa loi au Congrès américain, les ultraconservateurs iraniens et l'Arabie saoudite peut-il être mauvais ? / États-Unis (affaires extérieures), France, Iran, Israël, Nucléaire militaire, Énergie, Géopolitique, (...) / États-Unis (affaires extérieures), France, Iran, Israël, Nucléaire militaire, Énergie, Géopolitique, Nucléaire civil, Relations internationales, Diplomatie - 2013/12
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November 25 2013

Iran: Jailed Blogger Needs Urgent Medical Care

Jailed blogger,Hossein Ronaghi Maleki needs urgent medical care.He was sentenced to 15 years of prison. Laleh tweeted

November 24 2013

Thousands Applaud Iran's Nuclear Dealmaker Javad Zarif on Facebook

Javad Zarif's Facebook profile

Screenshot of Iran Foreign Minister Javad Zarif's Facebook profile

Thousands of Iranians poured comments of praise on the Facebook page of Iran's Foreign Minister, Javad Zarif today, thanking him for brokering a nuclear deal.

Finally, after ten years of negotiation, Iran and world powers came to a temporary agreement on the Iranian nuclear program on Sunday, November 23, 2013. The six month agreement rolls back Iran's ability to work towards a nuclear bomb, while economic sanctions will be eased.

Representatives of Iran and 5+1 after striking a deal. on Sunday, November 24, 2013. Source: Irna

Representatives of Iran and 5+1 after striking a deal. on Sunday, November 24, 2013. Source: Irna

Both Tehran and Washington praised the deal, but differences in understanding of the deal between the two sides emerged immediately. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry's said the deal does not say Iran can enrich uranium, while the Iranian president, Hassan Rouhani, said the agreement recognises “Iran's nuclear rights,” including the right to enrich uranium.

Online, opinions about the deal vary too. And many Iranians did not forget their sense of humor in reactions.

Among those praising the deal, Solmaz Naeemi wrote to the Foreign Minister on Facebook [fa]: “You said either we win or lose together. We won together.” Saffiye Noura said [fa]: “This news [nuclear deal] is no less important than the liberation of Khormashar [an occupied city during the Iran-Iraq war, liberated by Iranians].”

Persain Banoo considers that the enemies of the Islamic Republic must be desperate now. She tweeted:

Behzad Parsa tweeted [fa] with irony:

With 5% enriched uranium we can not even light a cigarette, let alone make a nuclear bomb.

Also Saleh has doubts that a nuclear agreement can improve people's lives and tweeted [fa]:

What advantage is there in this agreement for Iranians? [Remember] how the economic situation was before sanctions.

Also skeptically, the blogger Shahinsahr politik, says [fa]:

What will you [Islamic Republic] do with the disagreements with the Iranian people… Do you think with this [nuclear] agreement, people will forget the regime's crimes and their demands?

November 20 2013

Iran:Eight Netizens got Arrested

Iranian authorities announced that eight netizens including one woman were arrested in Rafsanjan,in Kerman Province, on charges of “insulting Islamic sanctities and values​​”.

November 18 2013

1,000 Days of House Arrest

Three Green Movement Leaders under House Arrest, source:Rahesabz

Three Green Movement Leaders under House Arrest. Source: Rahesabz

The three leading figures of protests that gripped the attention of the entire world as millions took to the streets of Iran remain locked up in their homes after more than 1,000 days of house arrest. On November 12, 2013 Mir Hossein Mousavi, his wife, Zahra Rahnavard and Mehdi Karoubi marked the 1,000th day of confinement without trial or any official charges.

The Green Movement erupted after the controversial 2009 presidential election that saw the re-election of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Several bloggers, news websites, and activist sites such as Rahesabz (see photo) remembered the three leaders during the week of the 1,000th day.

No Trial, No Fresh air

In a video message, Mehdi Karoubi's wife, Fatemeh Karoubi, says that her husband has health problems that have worsened under house arrest [he is kept in a building that is separate from his actual house] and that he is deprived of fresh air [it seems all windows are locked]. She emphasizes that there has been no trial.

“Hope, the last thing dies”

ُMaryam Ghasemi tweets :

If we count to 1,000 we will get bored. If we draw a line on a wall every day, there will be no more space after 1,000 days.

Ali Nemati Shahab reminds us of a “lesson from history” as he marks the 1000th day by tweeting:

[Alexander] Dubček [the reformist leader of Czechoslovakia] waited for 20 years to revive Prague's spring, he used to say “Hope is last thing that dies.”

Arash Bahamani tweets:

Let us also tweet #بشمر1000 [meaning count to 1,000] for all who were forced to leave Iran in the last 34 years [since the revolution].

November 12 2013

Iran:Changing Facebook's Filtering Model

Minister of Information and Communications Technology,Mahmoud Vaezi, says [fa] that his Ministry proposes that Facebook's filtering model to be changed.He proposes content based filtering for internet sites and Facebook becasue there are “useful pages” in Facebook that Iranians can read.

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