Tortured on Death Row: (L to R) Arshia Takdastan, Mehdi Mohammadifard and Javad Rouhi
UPDATE, FEB 1:
Iran’s Supreme Court has issued a stay on the execution of Mohammad Ghobadlou.
Ghobadlou was sentenced to death in November 2022 for allegedly running a car over a group of police officers, killing one. In December, the Supreme Court rejected Ghobadlou’s appeal and upheld his death sentence.
But the court told the lawyer for Ghobadlou — who suffers from bipolar disorder and has been denied his medication while in custody — that the execution is stayed while the slain police officer’s family decides whether to demand or forego retaliation.
UPDATE 1048 GMT:
Bloggers Amir Ahmadi and Astiaj Haghighi have each been sentenced to 10 years in prison for publishing a video of themselves dancing in Tehran’s Azadi Square.
Ahmadi and Haghighi were also banned from carrying out online activities and from leaving Iran for two years after the end of their sentences.
The couple were arrested on November 1. They were beaten by plainclothes officers and transferred to Evin Prison’s Ward 209, overseen by the Intelligence Ministry.
Ahmadi and Haghighi were charged with “encouraging corruption, assembly and collusion with the intention of disrupting national security and spreading propaganda” against the Islamic Republic. They were denied the right to a lawyer in court and their request for bail was rejected.
— L'important (@Limportant_fr) January 30, 2023
UPDATE, JAN 31:
Iran’s Parliament is proposing that prominent Iranians who are “expressing opinions on social networks” should be charged with a crime.
Under the draft legislation, those who hold “a social, political, scientific and cultural position” and use social media to comment on issues that “require” an official response will be sentenced to prison if their posts get “widespread feedback” and “disrupt public order”.
The head of Parliament’s Judicial Commission said the measure, trying to deal with “lies”, is under review.
UPDATE, JAN 29:
Journalist Nazila Maroofian has been sentenced to 2 years in prison, a fine and a 5-year travel ban.
Her “crime” was the interview of the father of Mahsa Amini, whose detention by “morality police” and death in custody sparked the current nationwide protests.
UPDATE 1441 GMT:
Iranian security forces fired live bullets and tear gas on Friday’s protests in Zahedan in southeast Iran.
Witnesses said a number of demonstrators were injured and several people were detained.
Protesters came out for the 17th week in a row, defying the security personnel who had killed about 90 worshippers and demonstrators on September 30.
They gathered outside Makki Mosque and chanted slogans against the Supreme Leader and Ayatollah Khomeini, the founding father of the Islamic Republic.
— ایران وایر (@iranwire) January 27, 2023
Protesters also gathered in other parts of Sistan and Baluchestan Province, including the city of Rask.
🎥 ویدیوهای منتشر شده از #راسک، حاکی از حضور معترضانی است که شعارهایی در حمایت از مولوی نقشبندی، و شعارهای ضد حکومتی چون «مرگ بر بسیجی» سر دادهاند. امروز ۷بهمن#مهسا_امینی #اعتصابات_سراسری #اعتراضات_سراسری #شهروندخبرنگار pic.twitter.com/cUz9ddKEle
— ایران وایر (@iranwire) January 27, 2023
UPDATE 1334 GMT:
Amnesty International has described the torture of three Iranian protesters sentenced to death.
Arshia Takdastan, 18; Mehdi Mohammadifard, 19; and Javad Rouhi, 31, each received two death sentences in December for “enmity against God” and “corruption on earth”. The court said they young men “incited…widespread” arson or vandalism by dancing, clapping, chanting, or throwing headscarves into bonfires in Noshahr in northern Iran on September 21.
Rouhi received a third death sentence for “apostasy” based on his “confession” under torture that he burned a copy of the Quran.
The three men have all appealed to the Iranian Supreme Court.
Rouhi, arrested on September 22 was held for more than 40 days in solitary confinement at a Revolutionary Guards detention center in Sari, the capital of Manzandaran Province. He was subjected to severe beatings and floggings while being tied to a pole, including on the soles of his feet; shocked with stun guns; exposed to freezing temperatures; and sexually assaulted by having ice put on his testicles. Revolutionary Guards agents repeatedly pointed a gun at his head and threatened to shoot him if he did not “confess”.
Rouhi is suffering from shoulder and muscular injuries, urinary incontinence, digestive complications, and mobility and speech impairment. He has severe pain in his back and hips and numbness in his right leg.
Mohammadifard was beaten during his arrest on October 2, sustaining a broken nose. He was held for a week in solitary confinement in a cell infested with mice and cockroaches. He was subjected to severe beatings, hung upside down, and raped, leading to anal injuries and rectal bleeding.
Takdastan was arrested on September 24 and held in solitary confinement at the Guards detention center for 28 days. He was beaten and threatened with death, with a gun pointed at his head if he did not “confess” on video. Interrogators also threatened to detain and torture his father. He has sustained a broken toe and experiences memory loss.
UPDATE 1317 GMT:
Two more Iranian university professors have been dismissed because of their support for nationwide protests.
Professor Hassan Bagherinia of the Psychology Faculty was suspended at Hakim Sabzevari University. The student council has responded, “In these days when the truth is clouded, he has not remained silent and has always supported the people.”
Amir Nikpey, a professor of sociology and anthropology at Beheshti University, has been dismissed. He is the fourth professor at the university to be fired, following Negar Zilabi from the Faculty of Theology, Mohammad Ragheb from the Faculty of Literature, and Eslam Nazemi from the Faculty of Computer Engineering.
UPDATE 1305 GMT:
Crowds used gatherings at the graves of slain demonstrators on Thursday to continue protests seeking rights, justice, and equality.
Videos on social media on January 26 showed a gathering at the grave of Hamidreza Rouhi, a university student and aspiring model who was shot dead during a demonstration in Tehran on November 18.
The group chanted “Death to the Dictator”, a reference to the Supreme Leader.
In Khorramabad in western Iran, mourners remembered Nika Shahkarami, 16, killed after she participated in protests in Tehran on September 20.
In Arak in central Iran, the crowd was for Mehrshad Shahidinejad, a 19-year-old chef reported killed after being detained.
There were also reports of family members and others gathering in Eshtehard to lay flowers at the graves of Mohammad Mehdi Karami and Mohammad Hosseini.
Karami and Hosseini were executed on January 7.
UPDATE 1250 GMT:
Wrestler Mohammad Namjoo-Motlagh is seeking asylum in Germany after being threatened by the Iranian authorities over his support for nationwide protests.
Namjoo-Motlagh, 26, who has won medals in international competitions, did not reveal how he left Iran and reached Europe.
He is the latest of a series of athletes to seek refuge during the 19-week protests.
The wrestler said he faced “constant threats and psychological pressure” from the Iran Wrestling Federation and other state agencies.
It was clear where this was going. I would either lose my life or they would blind me, or in the best-case scenario, I would be sent to prison.
UPDATE 1025 GMT:
The Iranian judiciary has reportedly sentenced a pregnant woman to death.
Shahla Abdi, an ethnic Kurd from the West Azerbaijan Province in northwest Iran, was arrested in Urmia in mid-October. Reports say she was condemned for setting fire to a portrait of Ayatollah Khomeini, the founder of the Islamic Republic.
A woman who was detained with Abdi, who is 21 or 22 says she was held in Urmia Central Prison for about a month. Some detainees say Abdi was transferred to Tabriz Prison about three weeks ago; others say she was taken to the detention center of the Intelligence Ministry.
“When I saw this woman, she looked very young but weak and abused, and I realized that she was four months pregnant,” one detainee said.
Another recalled, “She was in a very shocked state. It was obvious that she hadn’t taken a shower for a long time, and her hair was very messy. She was very scared.”
UPDATE 0942 GMT:
Iranian authorities are prosecuting the producer of the award-winning film Leila’s Brother.
Javad Norouzbeigi was summoned to the prosecutor’s office “where the title of the accusation against me was the production of Leila’s Brothers”.
At May’s Cannes Film Festival, Leila’s Brother won the FIPRESCI Prize and was nominated for the Palme d’Or.
But it was before release last summer by Iran’s Cinema Organization of the Islamic Guidance Ministry, claiming the “producer and director [were] violating and disobeying regulations”.
The ban may have been prompted by the speech of director Saeed Roustayi as he accepted the FIPRESCI award at Cannes. Roustayi said he was honoring those grieving in Abadan after the collapse of a tower building killed 43 people in the city in southwest Iran.
Iranian authorities have detained, arrested, or summoned a series of filmmakers, producers, and actors before and during the 19-week nationwide protests, sparked by the death of Mahsa Amini in police custody.
Actor Hossein Mohammadi, 26, faces the death sentence after he was reportedly tortured into a forced “confession” over the death of a member of the Basij paramilitary force during a demonstration.
UPDATE, JAN 26:
Iranian chess grandmaster Sarasadat Khademalsharieh, who defected to Spain after appearing at an international competition without a hijab, met Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez on Wednesday.
Khademalsharieh, 25, also known as Sara Khadem, took part in the FIDE World Rapid and Blitz Chess Championships in Kazakhstan’s capital Almaty in late December. After she was threatened over photos of her without hijab, she chose to remain in Spain, which she had entered in early January.
Khadem was pictured shaking hands with Sanchez over a chessboard at his official residence, the Moncloa Palace.
The Prime Minister tweeted, “How much I have learned today from a woman who inspires me. All my support to women athletes. Your example contributes to a better world.”
Cuánto he aprendido hoy de una mujer que me inspira, la Gran Maestra Femenina de ajedrez Sara Khadem.
Todo mi apoyo a las mujeres deportistas. Vuestro ejemplo contribuye a un mundo mejor. pic.twitter.com/DSxVEETB0k
— Pedro Sánchez (@sanchezcastejon) January 25, 2023
Khadem told the Spanish newspaper El Pais, that she only wore a headscarf at tournaments where there were cameras because she was representing Iran.
“With the hijab, I’m not me, I don’t feel good, and so I wanted to put an end to that situation,” she said. “So I decided not to wear it anymore.”
UPDATE 1012 GMT:
Among the latest sentences imposed by Iran authorities….
- 9 years and 8 months for musician Erfan Khalilian;
- 1 year for Tehran University literature major Matin Soleimani;
- 5 years for Elham Afkari, the sister of executed wrestler Navid Afkari
UPDATE, JAN 26:
The Iranian regime is continuing its harassment and punishment of the families of protesters killed or detained by security forces.
Hossein Ekhtiarian was beaten and imprisoned on November 22 after inquiring about his brother Mohammad, who was shot and arrested on October 27 during a memorial for slain teenage protester Nika Shakarami.
Hossein reportedly has a broken arm, and Mohammad is in a coma.
Zeinab Molaei-Rad, the mother of the slain 9-year-old Kian Pirfalak, has been suspended as a teacher in southwest Iran.
Kian was killed and his father wounded in November as they sat in their car while security forces fired on protesters.
Molaei-Rad was told last week by the local education department’s security officials that she is prohibited from working “until further notice”.
Authorities targeted Molaei-Rad after she explained at Kian’s funeral how he and his father were shot. They forced her to make a “confession” on State TV by threatening to stop her husband’s treatment in hospital.”
UPDATE 1750 GMT:
Iran’s Supreme Court has again upheld the death sentence imposed on Mohammad Ghobadloo.
Ghobadloo’s lawyer Mahdakht Damghanpour said the Court accepted the appeal against his murder conviction but maintained the separate charge of “corruption on Earth”.
“We have registered the appeal four times, and each time the court has refused to register and accept it,” Damghanpour said.
Ghobadloo was charged with running over police with a car, killing one officer and injurying five others.
Amnesty International has challenged the “sham trial” where Ghobadloo, 22, was sentenced while his lawyers were not present.
Ghobadlou, said to suffer from mental problems, has been subjected to torture and abuse in custody, say his supporters.
His mother pleaded for his life in a video message posted online.
UPDATE 1027 GMT:
Kowsar Khoshnoudi-Kia, a member of Iran’s national archery team, has lost the sight in her left eye after she was shot by Iranian security forces in Kermanshah on December 9.
The archer responded, “I have felt no regrets for being there on that day, at that time.”
“Kowsar (Mahbanou) Khoshnoudi-Kia, an athlete who was shot by Iranian forces during the recent anti-government protests in Kermanshah in December, has lost sight in her left eye," reports @KurdistanHRN. #کوثر_خشنودی_کیا pic.twitter.com/2wvtfaaWxe
— IranHumanRights.org (@ICHRI) January 23, 2023
UPDATE, JAN 24:
Iranian authorities have condemned another female journalist to a long prison sentence.
Photographer Reihane Taravati has been given a six-year term for allegedly organizing activities aimed at helping the women’s movement.
UPDATE 1705 GMT:
Artist Elham Modaresi has been released on bail after more than 3 1/2 months in detention.
Modaresi was seized on November 2. She was held i nKaraj’s Kachoui Prison, accused of “damaging facilities”, “disturbing public order and comfort”, and “propagating against the regime”.
Her family feared for Modaresi’s life, as she suffers from a genetic liver disorder and requires urgent medical care. They say they were not provided with any evidence of a crime, and independent legal representation was denied.
Modaresi’s sister Mojgan said Elham was under “severe torture”:
They don’t have a case against her but are trying to build one. And they do that by blindfolding her and psychologically torturing her.
They say things like, “You are a prostitute, you are a slut. You are guilty of sinning – look what you’ve done to your family.”
UPDATE 0904 GMT:
Painter and sculptor Farahnaz Nazeri has been sentenced to 10 years in prison by a Revolutionary Court in Sari in Mazandaran Province in northern Iran.
The hearing was held over the phone. Naseri’s lawyer was not present.
UPDATE 0857 GMT:
In the latest crackdown on dissent at Iran’s universities, Zahra Rahimi has been suspended for at least two years from her studies at Yazd University as she awaits trial over her participation in protests.
Hassan Bagherinia has been suspended from the faculty of Hakim Sabzevari University’s College of Psychology and Behavioral Sciences over his advocacy of peaceful student protest.
Alimohammad Nazari Shiasi, a statistics major at Isfahan Industrial University, has been sentenced to five years in prison over his involvement in protests.
UPDATE, JAN 23:
Iran authorities have arrested a third female journalist in the past 48 hours.
Melika Hashmei, a reporter for Shahr News Agency in Iran, was arrested on Saturday after she was summoned to Evin Prison’s security court.
Security personnel also seized Saeeda Shafiei and Mehrnoush Zarei in their homes on Saturday (see below).
The Iranian regime has arrested 80 journalists during the 18-week nationwide protests sparked by compulsory hijab and the death of Mahsa Amini — detained and reportedly beaten by “morality police” over “inappropriate attire” — in custody.
Many of the arrested media personnel are women. Two of them, Niloofar Hamedi and Elahe Mohammadi, face the death penalty because they broke the news of Amini’s coma and death on September 16.
UPDATE 1645 GMT:
As Iran’s rial sank to a new all-time low, President Ebrahim Raisi insisted to the Majlis, “Know that the prices of currencies and gold, as well as the prices of many expensive things in the country will decrease.”
Raisi did not explain how he would stop the rial’s slide.
The rial closed at 450,000:1 v. the US dollar on Sunday, a fall of 0.6% on the day. The currency has sunk by almost 30% during the 18-week protests.
Raisi also proclaimed that he would bring down Iran’s inflation rate, officially at 45% but unofficially far higher.
The Majlis approved the outlines of the Government’s budget for 2023-24 of 52.616 quadrillion rials ($117 billion), which takes effect on March 21.
UPDATE 1635 GMT:
Activists say detained protester Hassan Firouzi fell into a coma on Friday after torture.
Firouzi has been sentenced by a Revolutionary Court to death.
According to France-based Iran Human Rights Monitor, Firouzi said his “only wish” was to see his daughter — born 18 days after his arrest — before his execution.
The activists said Firouzi suffered severe bleeding after torture and beatings, losing his left kidney, and received no medical treatment.
The lawyer of bodybuilder Mohammad Ekhtiarian, detained in Khorramabad in western Iran, said his client is also in a coma from infection of injuries sustained during his arrest.
Ekhtiarian was shot in the leg by security forces and then detained.
UPDATE 1624 GMT:
Two more journalists, Saeeda Shafiei and Mehrnoush Zarei, have been arrested in Tehran.
Their detentions bring the total of journalists arrested during the 18-week nationwide protests to 79.
Shafiei’s husband Hassan Homayoun said she was seized by security forces on Sunday in their home. She has been taken to an undisclosed location, and there is no information about the reason for the arrest.
Saeeda Shafiei is a journalist and the author of the books “Dochtarpich” and “Gorkhan Station”.
Zarei was also taken from home by security personnel, who seized digital equipment.
UPDATE, JAN. 22:
The Iranian rial has slipped further to a new all-time low of 450,600:1 v. the US dollar.
The Ecoiran site blamed international measures over Iran’s nuclear program and crackdown on nationwide protests for the slide:
Increasing political pressures, such as placing the Revolutionary Guards on a list of terrorist organisations, and imposing restrictions on Iran-linked ships and oil tankers…are factors pointing to a global consensus against Iran, [which affect) the dollar’s rate in Tehran.
The European Union is considering a fourth set of sanctions on the Iranian regime, including on Revoluationary Guards commanders. The European Parliament voted overwhelmingly last week to label the Guards a terrorist organization.
Iran’s State English-language outlet Press TV is not mentioning the currency slide this morning. Instead, its lead story is “Iran’s Hand-Woven Carpet Output Up by Over 46% in March-December”.
UPDATE 1115 GMT:
The Iranian currency, already at an all-time low, continues to sink.
The rial is now at 447,300:1 v. the US dollar, a loss of almost 4% in value today.
UPDATE 0829 GMT:
EA correspondent Deepa Parent, writing for The Guardian, describes how the Iranian regime is trying to shut down protests in Zahedan in southeast Iran.
Demonstrators first came out on the streets on September 30, challenging abuses by security forces and discrimination against Sunni Muslims and the Baluch minority. Regime forces responded by killing at least 66 worshippers and protesters.
But residents were not deterred. Friday Prayer leader Moulavi Abdul Hamid, Iran’s leading Sunni cleric, challenged the regime and people marched every week after the service.
This week 15 checkpoints were put up around Zahedan, and several people were detained by security forces.
“All entrances and exits to and from the city have been blocked,” said “Mohammad”, who is in his 20s. “We have no idea how many were detained and where they were taken.”
Human rights activist Farzin Kadkhodaei, a human rights activist from Baluchistan, said everyone entering or leaving the city is searched: “They’re looking at their phones, especially if they’re young.” Police have begun filming protesters, including near the city’s Makki mosque, whom they later arrest.
Kadkhodaei estimated that at least 114 people were seized in the first week of January. One detainee, Hossein Khashani, was severely tortured.
“We don’t even know if they’re alive or dead.” One of the detainees,” says Kadkhodaei. “The release of minors who have been arrested depends entirely on the mood that day of the guards. They released a few teenagers and the rest are still in prison.”
The crackdown follows the appointment in December of Mohammad Karami, a senior Revolutionary Guards commander, as the Governor of Sistan and Baluchestan Province.
But despite the detentions and intimidation, the protesters turned out again yesterday. “Sara” said, “They will try to threaten us and we are not going to be afraid.”
Friday Prayer Leader Abdul Hamid again challenged the Supreme Leader: “80-year-olds and 90-year-olds should not make decisions for today’s youth.” He urged the leadership to listen to “the demands of the youth and women”, instead of repressing them.
Abdul Hamid’s advisor Molavi Abdul Majid, “Until the issue of Bloody Friday and the people of Zahedan who were killed and injured is resolved, this situation will continue.”
— Golnaz Esfandiari (@GEsfandiari) January 20, 2023
UPDATE, JAN. 21:
Iran’s currency has plunged to an all-time low.
There was a pause in the rial’s slide on Friday, with markets closed for the Iranian weekend, but the currency has dropped almost 3% in value on Saturday morning.
The rial now stands at 444,500:1 v. the US dollar.
UPDATE, JAN. 20:
Without a hint of irony, President Ebrahim Raisi has told the “First International Congress for the Women of Influence” in Tehran, “I hope that the women present at this meeting will be able to think together to take a step towards realising the rights of women in the world.”
Raisi did not refer to the 18-week protests for women’s rights, justice, and gender equality across Iran. Instead, he “expressed hope that the women present in this meeting can use the valuable experiences that the Islamic Republic of Iran has gained in the field of women’s rights and attention to women in the society and establish a fruitful partnership and cooperation”.
One of the “Women of Influence” is the Assad regime’s senior advisor Bouthaina Shabaan, who has repeatedly supported the killing, torture, and detention of hundreds of thousands of Syrian civilians during the country’s 12-year conflict.
UPDATE, JAN. 19:
Iran’s currency has renewed its historic decline.
At the end of December, the rial hit an all-time of low of 440,000:1 v. the US dollar, having lost almost 30% of its value in a month.
The replacement of Central Bank Governor Ali Salehabadi and the Bank’s intervention in the currency market brought a recovery to about 400,000:1. However, the decline soon resumed and has accelerated this week.
The rial is currently trading at 432,500:1 v. the US dollar.
UPDATE 1000 GMT:
Another long sentence is imposed on a political prisoner….
Women’s rights activist and documentarian Mojgan Ilanloo has been sentenced to 10 years in prison and 74 lashes. Ilanloo was arrested amid Iran’s brutal crackdown on antiestablishment protests. pic.twitter.com/weHNRE2K9a
— Golnaz Esfandiari (@GEsfandiari) January 17, 2023
UPDATE 0858 GMT:
An Iranian court has imposed three death sentences on protester Javad Ruhi.
Ruhi, 35, was arrested in Nowshahr in northern Iran on December 11. He was accused of apostasy and insulting the Koran; burning and destroying public property; and inciting citizens to create insecurity.
Mehdi Mohammadifar, detained at the same time, was handed two death sentences for “corruption on Earth” and “inciting citizens to create insecurity and collusion to commit a crime against the security of the country”.
Ruhi’s public defender Soleiman Vatandoust told the court that video only establishes Ruhi’s presence at the protests and “there is no evidence regarding the accusations, including corruption on Earth”.
Iranians have flooded streets across the country in protest since Amini’s death, with women and schoolgirls putting up unprecedented shows of defiance in what appears to be the biggest threat to the Islamic government since the 1979 revolution.
A brutal government crackdown on public demonstrators and dissent has seen several thousand people arrested, including journalists, lawyers, activists, digital rights defenders, and others voicing opposition to the government.
Some lawmakers have demanded a harsh response to the unrest, saying heavy penalties, including death sentences, are warranted for protesters.
Four convicted protesters have already been executed, while two others, Mohammad Ghobadlou and Mohammad Broghani, had their sentences upheld by the country’s Supreme Court and remain in prison on death row.
UPDATE 0849 GMT:
Demonstrators in Sanandaj in Iranian Kurdistan, a center of the 18-week nationwide protests, attended a 40th-day ceremony for slain protester Homan Abullahi.
The gathering at the grave of Abdullahi chanted, “The Martyr Never Dies!” and “Death to the Dictator”, referring to the Supreme Leader.
Abdullahi, 21, was shot and killed by security forces during protests on December 7 protests in Sanandaj.
The security forces have slain more than 100 people in Kurdistan since September 16, when Mahsa Amini — a native and resident of the region — died in police custody after she was detained and reportedly beaten by “morality police”.
The activist HRANA news agency reports at least 522 people, including 70 children, have been killed by security forces during the protests.
UPDATE, JAN. 18:
Oil and petrochemical workers went on strike in at least six different locations in five Iranian provinces on Tuesday.
Unconfirmed reports claimed 10 protests of strikers in the midst of Iran’s crisis over gas supplies.
The workers at the Ilam refinery in western Iran:
تجمع اعتراضی کارکنان رسمی پالایشگاه #گاز ایلام
امروز سهشنبه ۲۷ دیماه ۱۴۰۱، کارکنان رسمی شاغل در پالایشگاه گاز ایلام دست به تجمع اعتراضی زدند.
این تجمع در اعتراض به عدم اجرای ماده ۱۰ قانون وظایف و اختیارات وزارت نفت، مالیات، سنوات و غیره برگزار شده است#اعتراضات_سراسرى pic.twitter.com/oUWKH5vNnx
— Iranworkers (@iranworkers) January 17, 2023
UPDATE, JAN. 17:
Residents of the city of Torbat-e Jam in northeast Iran protest on Monday about the cutoff of gas supply:
We have to warm up our kids w hair dryers. Where is the disaster management? We have no jobs, how can we pay expensive heaters?
ویدیویی که دررسانههای محلی ایران منتشر شده نشان میدهد شهروندان در تربتجام با خشم از قطع چند روزه گاز در اوج سرمای زمستان، از گرانی وسایل گرمایشی جایگزین میگویند و این که مجبورند با سشوار فرزندانشان را گرم کنند pic.twitter.com/vtW9Vsds5L
— ايران اينترنشنال (@IranIntl) January 16, 2023
UPDATE 0857 GMT:
Amid gas shortages across Iran, President Ebrahim Raisi has denied that there are gas shortages.
In an unannounced visit to the National Iranian Gas Company on Sunday, Raisi praised staff for “ensuring a steady supply of gas amid a dramatic drop in temperatures.
He said the “good management” of Oil Minister Javid Owji and company officials had prevented a “massive gas outage” although there were cutoffs in a “limited number of locations”.
Raisi criticized local and regional authorities for closing offices and organizations, saying it was not a “suitable solution”.
UPDATE, JAN 16:
US-Iranian political prisoner Siamak Namazi has begun a seven-day hunger strike, asking US President Joe Biden to act on the cases of American detainees.
Oil consultant Namazi, held in Tehran’s Evin Prison since October 2015, wrote in an open letter:
All I want, sir, is one minute of your days’ time for the next seven days devoted to thinking about the tribulations of the US hostages in Iran.
Only the President of the United States has the power to bring us home, should he set his mind to do so.
7yrs ago today, Pres. Obama freed all the AmCit hostages in #Iran but left me behind, saying I’d be out in weeks. I’m STILL in #EvinPrison & am starting a 7-day hunger strike & begging @POTUS to spare a minute of each of those days to help all of us. See my letter to @joebiden. pic.twitter.com/92XN4YoOA9
— siamaknamazi (@sianamazi) January 16, 2023
Iranian officials imposed a 10-year sentence on Namazi and also imprisoned his octogenarian father Baquer, a former UN official, in March 2016.
The elder Namazi was released last October 1 on medical grounds. Siamak Namazi was granted a furlough, but summoned back to Evin less than two weeks later.
Namazi wrote of Iran’s 17-week nationwide protests and the regime’s attempts to crush them: “Today the whole world is witnessing how atrociously this regime can respond to those who dare demand their basic rights.”
UPDATE 1051 GMT:
Iran’s Appeals Court has upheld the five-year prison sentence of women’s rights activist and social researcher Nooshin Keshavarznia on the charge of “assembly and collusion against national security”.
Keshavarznia was arrested on April 25 after she was summoned by security services. Her “crime” was to research harassment and violence against women.
ORIGINAL ENTRY: In the midst of nationwide protests, Iran is facing a shortage of gas across the country.
Videos have confirmed reports of Iranians cut off from supplies in cities such as Mashhad, Ardabil, Hamedan, Tabriz, Sabzevar, and Zanjan.
Since mid-December, government offices and schools across Iran have been closed for weeks at a time to save gas. On Thursday, authorities in northeast Iran closed all offices until Sunday.
On Sunday, the National Gas Company said five cities in the Khorasan Razavi Province in eastern Iran had been cut off, as temperatures dropped to as low as -28 Celsius (-18.4 Fahrenheit).
Government departments, schools and universities in the capital Tehran and several provinces are closed for a second consecutive day.
The Company blamed the loss of gas imports from Turkmenistan due to problems in the central Asian country’s domestic supply network.
In Babol in northern Iran, facing a closed benzene station, a videographer asks, “What should we do? What is the country like?”
— Shoura Hashemi (@ShouraHashemi) January 14, 2023
The shortages are a further blow to the insistence of the regime that the Islamic Republic is triumphing over “enemies”.
In early September, Iranian Oil Minister Javad Owji — echoing the rhetoric of Russia amid its invasion of Ukraine — said Europeans faced a cold winter without gas: “You are being badly governed.”
Foreign Ministry spokesman Nasser Kan’ani said that, if US sanctions were lifted, “We have the world’s second-largest gas reserves and can supply Europe.”
Earlier this week, the Oil Minister had a far different message for Iranians. Citing “technical problems” he advised citizens to “dress warmer at home and reduce consumption”.
He added, “Those who use too much gas can expect to have their supply cut off. No one can say, ‘I’ll pay what I consume’.”
A mother in Tehran chided officials, “Outrageous! In the last three or four years, we see the same theater every time there is a cold snap. Every snowfall paralyzes the country, when authorities and schools are closed to save energy.”
Analysts note that the problem is endemic with overconsumption because of “extremely poor energy efficiency”, including in sectors such as the iron, steel, and cement industries. Iran is fourth in the world in per capita gas consumption, behind only the US, Russia, and China.
Regime attempts to cut subsidies have failed because of the effect on struggling Iranian households. Expansion of production is limited by lack of access to key technologies amid US sanctions.
Driving through the city of Ghouchan in Razavi-Khorasan Province past closed shops:
In der Stadt Ghutschan (Provinz Razavi-Khorasan) haben heute den zweiten Tag hintereinander alle Geschäfte geschlossen, weil es kein Gas gibt. 15. Jänner. #IranRevolution #IRGCterrorists pic.twitter.com/2FWIbREh6i
— Shoura Hashemi (@ShouraHashemi) January 15, 2023