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Lawyer Accuses Intelligence Ministry in Kermanshah of Harassing Kurdish Civil Rights Activist

CHRI - In the six months since she was released from a three-week detention, Iranian Kurdish children and women's rights activist Farzaneh Jalali has been repeatedly called in for questioning by the Intelligence Ministry.

Richard Ratcliffe Turns to UN and UK to Secure Wife’s Release From Iran

CHRI - After exhausting all legal avenues in Iran to overturn the five-year prison sentence issued in a secret trial against his Iranian-British wife, Richard Ratcliffe is taking her case to the United Nations and may sue Iran through the UK court system.

Iranians mock Rouhani over explanation for no female ministers

Al-monitor - Iranian President Hassan Rouhani's reasoning for not appointing any female ministers to his Cabinet — as he had promised he would in the May presidential election — has prompted a backlash from his supporters.

AUTHOR Al-Monitor Staff

On Aug. 15, the moderate Rouhani defended his proposed list of ministers to members of parliament and tried to persuade them to vote in favor of his Cabinet. "I will tell all the ministers in the 12th [incumbent] government to appoint young people and women for high-level positions," Rouhani said, adding, "I was really eager to at least have three female ministers ... but it didn't happen." He did not explain why it did not happen.

Iranians quickly took to Twitter and other social media outlets to mock the president, launching a Persian hashtag that translates to #ButItDidntHappen to express their disappointment with Rouhani, while reminding him of the promises he made during his electoral campaign.

Manzie, a user who describes herself as a feminist, tweeted, "We weren't supposed to be disappointed with Rouhani so soon, #ButItDidntHappen."

Another Twitter user published a picture of a smiling Rouhani, along with the satirical quote, "I wanted to lift the house arrest [of 2009 opposition leaders] #ButItDidntHappen."

Another Iranian tweeted, "Rouhani has learned his lesson. Every time he makes a promise, he then says#ButItDidntHappen."

During the May presidential election, Rouhani defeated his powerful conservative opponent Ebrahim Raisi by making various promises to the Iranian public, including appointing female ministers and allowing Iranians more social freedoms.

In other news, Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif — who appeared before parliament seeking to gain a vote of confidence for his reappointment as foreign minister — once again faced harsh criticism from hard-line members of parliament.

Mohammad Javad Abtahi, a hard-line member of parliament who belongs to the Endurance Front, slammed Zarif during an Aug. 16 parliamentary session. "If I were in the place of Mr. Rouhani," he said, "I would have changed the diplomatic team [of Iran]. ... It would be better if the government chooses another team with another policy."Abtahi indicated that then the United States would become "aware that Mr. Zarif, with his smiles and his strolling" along a river in Geneva with former US Secretary of State John Kerry, is no longer foreign minister and replaced by someone such as Abtahi "who is courageous and violent."

The hard-line members of parliament also criticized Rouhani and Zarif for signing on to the nuclear deal with six world powers, including the United States.

In response to the criticism, Zarif told parliament Aug. 16, "Iran is the only country that ensures its security through its people. ... Iran is not dependent on foreign countries and doesn't get happy about the smiles or frowns of foreign [powers]."

Zarif expressed his hope that the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) will remain in place as an "honorable document of the Iranian people's resistance." He added, "Some [countries and figures] put their utmost effort into preventing the JCPOA from taking place, and they are attempting to intensify Iran-phobia and Shiite-phobia hand in hand with Zionists."

The nuclear deal "is the achievement of this nation and wasn't achieved by the Foreign Ministry. Do not belittle the people's achievement," Zarif said in reaction to hard-liners' criticisms of the nuclear deal.

Referring to US President Donald Trump's threat to tear up the JCPOA, Zarif said, "The US can't forget its commitments and ignore a deal by violating it; [this] will lead to the isolation of the US."

While Zarif defended his upcoming plans for the Foreign Ministry for his second term, one hard-line member of parliament, Abdullah Sameri, shouted at him and accused him of lying. Other members of parliament covered up Sameri's mouth to stop him from swearing and then led him outside. Sameri said he shouted because the figures presented by Zarif were far from reality.



Women’s Rights Activist Demands Rouhani Provide Reasons for His Exclusively Male Cabinet

Women’s rights advocate Nahid Tavasoli.CHRI - President Hassan Rouhani must explain why he didn't nominate women to serve in his new cabinet, feminist researcher Nahid Tavasoli told the Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI) in a recent interview.

Political Prisoners’ Letter to Foreign Ambassadors Who Went on Staged Tour of Evin Prison

CHRI - Editor's Note: On July 5, 2017, dozens of foreign diplomats based in Iran went on a staged tour of Evin Prison designed to prevent any contact between the diplomats and political prisoners and inmates with legitimate grievances about the prison's conditions. The following letter, a copy of which was obtained by the Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI), was written by two current political prisoners in Evin who were hidden from the diplomats.

Atena Damei is serving a seven-year prison sentence for peacefully advocating children and women's rights and Golrokh Ebrahimi Iraee is serving six years for writing an unpublished story on stoning.

"We are in prison because we wanted an improvement in prison conditions and in the situation of prisoners," wrote Daemi and Iraee to the diplomats. "But with your participation in this staged game, you, esteemed ambassadors, have delayed our aspirations."

July 8, 2017

We have been informed that on Wednesday, July 5, 2017, a delegation consisting of 45 ambassadors based in Tehran were invited by Iran's Prisons Organization and the [Judiciary's] Islamic Human Rights division to visit Evin Prison.

When we invite guests to our home, we obviously try to make a beautiful presentation, even if the same place where political prisoners were hanged and shot by firing squads in the 1980s has now turned into a stage for entertaining 45 ambassadors.

We address you, the respectable ambassadors who were invited to visit sections of Evin Prison chosen by the authorities. You know and we know that for a long time Iran, especially the Prisons Organization, has been hit with sanctions for serious human rights violations.

For years Iran has refused to allow UN special rapporteurs on human rights, Mr. Ahmed Shaheed and Ms. Asma Jahangir, to inspect the country and now, knowingly or otherwise, you ambassadors have turned into a loudspeaker for Iran to present an opposite version of the truth about its human rights situation.

Do you really know how many wards and sections there are in Evin Prison? Did they give you a tour of Ward 209 belonging to the Intelligence Ministry, or the IRGC Intelligence Organization's Ward 2-A or the judiciary's intelligence unit's Ward 241? Did they show you the solitary cells without windows, ventilation or toilets? What about the cells known as the "graves?" What about the indoor courtyards? Did you see the blindfolds and handcuffs?

According to newspaper reports in Iran your excellencies were "amazed" by the good conditions of the prisoners and the conditions inside the prison. How many prisoners did you speak to? Did they tell you about the number of detainees, solitary confinements, interrogation methods and various kinds of physical and psychological tortures?

Why didn't they bring you to our ward where the female political prisoners are held? They probably told you Evin does not have a women's ward. Indeed that is a lie bigger than the lie they told you about having no political prisoners. We know that you could not and cannot find out about the situation of political prisoners because the authorities did not and do not want you to discover the depths of the tragedy.

We will describe for you the same prison that "amazed" you. Did they tell you who remodeled and re-equipped Ward 4 before your visit? You should know that on the day of your visit, the prisoners in that ward, which was redecorated at the cost of thousands of dollars, were taken out of their cells with the excuse that they were being taken to court and the hospital. Instead they were moved into solitary confinement in Ward 2-A and were forced to stay there so that they could not see you and you could not see them. Did they tell you that in that ward there are financial convicts, political prisoners and street thugs?

A day before your visit to Evin Prison, all newspapers were banned in the wards. They did not want us to be aware of each other because their theatrical curtain would have fallen and the truth would have been exposed. Did they tell you about unsanitary conditions and women's health? Or about the conditions inside the clinic where they prescribe wrong medications? Or about using sanctions and budget cuts as an excuse for the lack of disinfectants and cleaning material?

Do you know how many prisoners are incarcerated alongside inmates suffering from AIDS and hepatitis? Have they told you that for religious reasons male prison doctors do not check female prisoners or give them injections and blood pressure tests? Have they told you there is not even one female nurse to carry out these tasks? Do you know how many hundreds or thousands of inmates suffer from kidney problems because of the prison's unhealthy water?

Did they introduce you to a physician with the alias Shahriari? He's the one who finds out what's wrong with sick prisoners just by looking at them. He's the one who never dares to sign his name because he's afraid one day he will be exposed for his malpractice.

We wish during your visit you had taken a ride inside the prison clinic ambulance and seen how ill equipped it is. We wish you had asked your hosts to show you films from prison cameras showing the unsanitary conditions inside the prison two days before your visit and you could have seen that inmates inside the prison wear yellow-colored uniforms and blue-striped uniforms outside of prison. You would have seen how many doors and gates are opened and locked one after the other at the end of each guard shift and how they block the way when prisoners need to be urgently taken to the hospital.

We will give you examples of what goes on in the Women's Ward, where three locked doors and gates block emergency exits. Imagine how long it would take to open and close them in an emergency. We wish you could see how many prisoners sleep in close proximity on the floor and on the carpet in the prayer room because of lack of beds. We wish you could taste the food distributed to the inmates. Do you know we prisoners have to buy dairy products, vegetables, fruits and protein from the prison's store ourselves at many times above their prices? That is because the small monthly prison food rations are rotten and expired long ago. We wish they had told you about the enormous profits they pocket from this clever trade.

Did they inform you that a day before your visit, there were no vehicles inside the country's biggest prison? It was because taxi drivers who transport prisoners to medical centers and courthouses had refused to show up for work in order to demand several months of unpaid salaries.

Did they inform you of the existence of Ward 350, where male political prisoners are held? Or the ward that is exclusively for convicted clerics? Did they tell you about prisoners such as Mohammad Ali Taheri, who has been in solitary confinement for more than five years in IRGC's Ward 2-A?

You should know that despite claims by the head of the Prisons Organization, Mostafa Mohebbi, we the inmates of this prison are allowed family visitation not once a week but once a month.

Your excellencies could have easily checked satellite images of Evin's exact geographical area. You could have accessed credible reports about Evin and other Iranian prisons. You could have even found the names of the political prisoners and sought to know how they are doing and requested to meet with them so that you could have learned something about the prison you were visiting.

Now that that did not happen, we plead with your excellencies to avoid dancing to the authorities' tune about conditions inside the prison and its  prisoners and insist on surprise visits to Evin, Gharchak, Fashafouyeh, Rajaee Shahr and other prisons in Tehran and the provinces in order to gain a true picture.

We are numerous political prisoners. We are in prison because we wanted to present the true picture of the deplorable human rights situation in the Islamic Republic of Iran. We have paid a heavy price for this and our families have also been intimated in various ways. We have even been kept hidden from you.

We are in prison because we wanted an improvement in prison conditions and in the situation of prisoners. But with your participation in this staged game, you, esteemed ambassadors, have delayed our aspirations. Your presence in Iran's largest prison became fodder for the regime's newspapers that carried such headlines as "Some countries and media show false and incorrect images of Iran's prisons."

They invited you in order to use you and to discredit reports by human rights groups and international organizations about Iran's prisons. You could and you can present a real picture, not a staged one, of prisons in the Islamic Republic of Iran and thereby improve conditions inside them.

We the undersigned call upon you to ask the Prisons Organization of the Islamic Republic of Iran and the [judiciary's] Islamic Human Rights division to give permission to UN Special Rapporteur Asma Jahangir to travel to Iran and inspect the prisons and meet political prisoners and civil rights activists.

Atena Daemi, Golrokh Iraee
Evin Prison Women's Ward
July 8, 2017

Married Women in Iran Still Need “Permission” to Travel Abroad Under Amendment to Passport Law

Member of Parliament Parvaneh Salashouri (left) and human rights lawyer Farideh Gheirat (right).CHRI - An amendment proposed by the Iranian Parliament's Women's Block to the country's Passport Law does nothing to ease state restrictions on married women's ability to independently travel abroad, a legal expert told the Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI).

Contradictory Laws Exasperate Debate Over Iranian Women's Observance of Hijab in Cars

CHRI - The growing number of women refusing to cover their hair while driving in Iran, especially during the hot summer months, has resulted in renewed threats of arrests for violations of the country's mandatory hijab law.

Iranian women spark debate by defying hijab rule in cars

Iranian women inside a car in TehranGuardian - Judiciary and police insist a car interior is public space but more women are defying authorities by driving with 'bad hijab'

Iranian women during celebrations in Tehran after Iran struck a nuclear deal with world powers in 2015. Photograph: Atta Kenare/AFP/Getty ImagesView more sharing options

Saeed Kamali Dehghan Iran correspondent

Tuesday 11 July 2017 06.00 BSTLast modified on Tuesday 11 July 2017 07.57 BST

A growing number of women in Iran are refusing to wear a hijab while driving, sparking a nationwide debate about whether a car is a private space where they can dress more freely.

Obligatory wearing of the hijab has been an integral policy of the Islamic republic since the 1979 revolution but it is one the establishment has had a great deal of difficulty enforcing. Many Iranian women are already pushing the boundaries, and observers in Tehran say women who drive with their headscarves resting on their shoulders are becoming a familiar sight.

Clashes between women and Iran's morality police particularly increase in the summer when temperatures rise. But even though the police regularly stop these drivers, fining them or even temporarily seizing their vehicle, such acts of resistance have continued, infuriating hardliners over a long-standing policy they have had a great deal of difficulty enforcing.

Iran's moderate president, Hassan Rouhani, has argued that people's private space should be respected and opposes a crackdown on women who don't wear the hijab. He said explicitly that the police's job is not to administer Islam. Speaking in 2015, Rouhani said: "The police can't do something and say I'm doing this because God said so. That's not a police [officer]'s business."

Many in Iran believe that private space includes the inside of a car, but judicial authorities and the police have opposed that interpretation.

"The invisible part of the car, such as the trunk, is a private space, but this does not apply to the visible parts of the car," Hadi Sadeghi, the deputy head of Iran's judiciary chief, said last week.



It is compulsory for women to wear a hijab in public in Iran. Photograph: Darren Staples/ReutersHis comments have prompted widespread reaction online, with one user posting a satirical picture showing a couple embracing in a car boot. Another user tweeted: "The police have said that only the boot is a private space... poor those of us who have a hatchback car [without a boot]... we don't have any private space."

Local media often refrain from directly criticising the mandatory hijab, but the debate over what constitutes a private space has allowed newspapers and even state news agencies to publish articles reflecting views from both sides.

"Private or not private?" asked an article carried by the state Irna news agency on Monday. "This is a question that has created a legal and religious discussion about private space within cars."

Hossein Ahmadiniaz, a lawyer, told Irna that infringing on people's private spaces was like infringing their citizen's rights, arguing that it was up to parliamentarians to define the private space and not the police.

"The law says that the space within a car is a private space," he said. "The government's citizen's rights charter [launched by Rouhani] also considers a car to be a private space and it is incumbent upon enforcers to respect that."

Rift between Iran's ayatollah and re-elected president widens

Read more

Bahman Keshavarz, a leading lawyer, wrote an article in the reformist Shargh daily, arguing that wearing a so-called "bad hijab" (loose hijab) is not a crime under Iranian law.

Saeid Montazeralmahdi, a spokesperson for the Iranian police, disagreed. "What is visible to the public eye is not private space and norms and the rules should be respected within cars." He also warned car owners against using tinted glass to prevent onlookers from seeing into the car.

The debate is not only among liberal Iranians. Abolfazl Najafi Tehrani, a cleric based in Tehran, tweeted: "People's cars, like people's houses, are their property and a private space and infringing upon this space will disturb people's moral security and will harm women's trust with the police."

Yahya Kamalpour, a member of the Iranian parliament, said: "The space within people's cars is a private space and the police has no right to enter that space without a judicial order."

The debate comes amid a growing rift between the government and the hardline judiciary that acts independently of Rouhani's government.

Despite restrictions, women are increasingly active in Iranian society. It emerged on Sunday that Iran Air, the country's national airline, has for the first time appointed a female CEO. Rouhani is also under pressure from his voter base to nominate a record number of female ministers in his cabinet reshuffle next month.

In a sign of slowly changing attitudes, Ali Karimi, a veteran Iranian footballer, on Monday called on the authorities to allow female fans to attend stadiums alongside men.

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Iranian Soccer Stars Call For End To Ban On Women Spectators

Former Bayern Munich player Ali Karimi has added his voice to those calling for Iranian women to be allowed into major sports events. (file photo)RFL/RE - Two prominent Iranian footballers have called for lifting a ban on women attending major men's sports events, adding to pressure from women's rights activists long battling the prohibition.

Ali Karimi, who is widely regarded as one of the best Iranian players of all time, expressed hope on July 10 that "the conditions are set with the help of" President Hassan Rohani and the Iranian Football Federation (FFIRI) "for women to enter stadiums" as spectators.

"This is the demand of millions upon millions of female fans who'd like to watch football matches and other events up close," Karimi, a former midfielder for Iranian and European clubs who now coaches Naft Tehran, was quoted by the semiofficial ISNA news agency as saying. "This important issue is not impossible, this dream of female sports fans can be achieved through correct planning."

Weeks earlier, Iranian national team captain Masud Shojaei called on Rohani to lift the ban.

Flood Of Passion

"I think it is the dream of many Iranian women who are football fans," Shojaei, who has represented Iran at two World Cups, said in a video clip that was shared widely on social media. "I think if [the ban is lifted] we would have to build a stadium that could hold 200,000 spectators, because we see the flood of passion from our ladies."

"I hope it happens very, very soon," he added.

Both appeals seemed intended to spur Rohani into pushing the country's conservative, religiously dominated leadership into some of the mild reforms that he espoused when he was elected in 2013 and reelected again in May.

Iran's national soccer captain Masud Shojaei (file photo)

Iran's national soccer captain Masud Shojaei (file photo)

Shojaei had reportedly raised the request in a June 14 meeting with Rohani after Iran's side qualified for the 2018 World Cup in Russia. The video was reportedly recorded at the venue of the meeting with Rohani.

Rohani campaigned on pledges that included fewer social restrictions, but he has faced opposition from influential hard-liners in Iran's mostly unelected power structure.

In recent years, government officials have issued conflicting statements over whether the ban on women entering stadiums might be lifted, and only a limited number of women -- many of them foreigners -- have occasionally been allowed in as spectators at mass sports events.

Islamic Norms

Authorities claim the stadium ban is enforced to protect women and Islamic norms. They say the atmosphere is inappropriate for women because of revealing athletes' uniforms and the prevalence of crude language.

But women's rights advocates say the ban is simply one of the more blatant examples of gender discrimination in Iranian society, where women are expected to maintain a strict dress code and are discouraged from being seen in public with male nonrelatives, and women's testimony carries less weight than a man's.

Women have occasionally defied the ban and entered stadiums, sometimes dressed as men.

In June 2014, several women were detained when they tried to go to an international volleyball event at Tehran's Azadi stadium.

Prominent Iranian filmmaker Jafar Panahi documented the debate in his award-winning movie Offside, about female football fans who are detained after attempting to enter a stadium to watch a World Cup qualifying match. The movie was filmed in Iran but banned domestically.

Some of Rohani's supporters have publicly called for the lifting of the ban.

"Entering stadiums is an Iranian woman's right," said a hand-written sign at a May campaign event in Tehran.

Golnaz Esfandiari

Golnaz Esfandiari is a senior correspondent with Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. She can be reached at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

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