Category Archives: Iran

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The Iranian People Deserve Our Support And Solidarity

Democracy really only belongs to the west. The right to free speech, protest and demand for social change seems only to be the preserve of white people. Everyone else must accept the bitter reality of the status quo, whatever its hardship, because things could easily get worse.

Protesters must pack up and retreat because the police state, a theocratic fascist dictatorship, is prepared to be violent, to make the people protesting “face the price.” They are protesting for a myriad of reasons and there are elements of rejection of Islamism swirling with the working class salt of the earth revolt against the elite increasingly monopolising power, wealth and resources, in the hiked prices.

This should ordinarily win the support of the left. It ticks a checklist of required ingredients for a left-wing revolutionary movement and yet the strongest supporters of the Iranian dissidents are the right. The left meanwhile have been deafeningly silent. And it speaks volumes about where they stand. And as Desmond Tutu famously said, silence only favours the oppressors.

There are genuinely understandable reasons to fear another political upheaval given what happened in Syria. There are no guarantees as to how the protests in Iran will play out. But there are many on the left who simply regard these protests as the political constructs or desires of America and completely rid the Iranian people of their agency. Certainly, the west will interfere and seek to create a trade-friendly Iran who do not threaten their geopolitical interests. And it’s worth pointing out that years of sanctions on Iran have hurt their economy and played some part in building economic resentment. On the other hand some could legitimately point out that Iran’s elite like all regimes hoard their wealth and the poor barely see it, therefore any sanctions is more likely to disproportionately disaffect the elite than the poor.

But warnings about dystopian futures, whilst definitely a risk, are not reason enough or alone to silence the protests. The left repeatedly point out that there are things far worse than the status quo as if the status quo itself is bearable for many people within Iran.

In 2015 Iran had executed 977, and 743 the year before that. The hijab is mandatory for women and they face stoning for adultery. Dissidents, purged after the Islamic Revolution, are silenced and for most parts the liberal secularist movement within the country is a young, quietly rippling underground one.

 

We must support the people in any struggle; that is a basic leftist principle

 

The barbarism of Iran is as bad, if not worse, than Saudi Arabia. And yet our attitudes towards both states are markedly different. If the people of Saudi Arabia rose up there would be support for them to overthrow the religious fascism policing their lives yet it’s not found in the situation with Iran. The argument that refusing to support regime change to avoid loss of lives shifts the responsibility away from the regime onto the people and thereby subliminally encourages them to simply accent the situation.

Imagine if the Metropolitan Police had mistreated an anti-war campaigner? Would we tell the protesters to stop or hold the police to account? The left-wing writer James Bloodworth summed it up that the conservatives are radicals when it comes to foreign policy whilst the leftists tend to be pragmatic maintainers of the status quo.

There’s though a hint of sneering racism to all of this, that somehow the Iranians just like the Arabs are passive slaves to dictatorship and cannot comprehend democracy. They will resort to mindless and senseless violence because they will squabble like children. It casts the people as passive and ignores that the capacity for violence belongs with state powers. The state powers use the instruments of oppression to maintain their status, but cleverly, manage to win themselves the support of the anti-imperialist left by parading themselves as the little guys sticking it to the west. It often means parts of the left will ignore whatever atrocities they participate or orchestrate because the end goal is to end western hegemony itself.

One doesn’t have to support an intervention in every struggle and to be honest most of them didn’t need ours. The exception is Syria where the price of inaction is measured in the blood of thousands. But we should distinguish between people and state and understand that our internationalism cannot be inconsistent. We must support the people in any struggle; that is a basic leftist principle.

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Iran shuts down Instagram, Telegram apps amid protests

The Iranian government has blocked access to messaging app Telegram and photo app Instagram amid several days of protests in what authorities say is a move “to maintain tranquillity and security of society,” according to state-run media. 

SEE ALSO: Journalists are being jailed for ‘fake news,’ and critics blame Trump

Various media reports have stated that the apps were used to coordinate plans and share photos and videos of the demonstrations, which began as protests over economic inequality but have since grown in scope, taking aim at leading political figures like Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei  and President Hassan Rouhani. Read more…

More about Instagram, Iran, Protests, Telegram, and Tech

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Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s Husband Hails ‘First Ripple Of Freedom’ After Iran Court Appearance Postponed

The husband of imprisoned Briton Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe has hailed the “first ripple of freedom” after his wife’s court appearance in Iran was postponed following a visit to the country by Boris Johnson.

Richard Ratcliffe also revealed Nazanin could “see some light” at the end of the tunnel as her spell in one of Iran’s most brutal prisons reaches almost two years.

The charity worker has been held on charges of spying and spreading propaganda that her supporters say are trumped up. She was only in the country on holiday with her daughter visiting her parents.

Ratcliffe released an upbeat statement in the wake of Foreign Secretary Johnson ending a “worthwhile visit” to Iran where he raised Nazanin’s plight during nearly an hour of talks with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani. 

Richard Ratcliffe and Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe with their daughter, Gabriella.‘ alt=’Richard Ratcliffe and Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe with their daughter, Gabriella.‘ data-credit=”Changeorg” data-portal-copyright=”Changeorg” data-provider=”Other” data-provider-asset-id=”205894587″ data-has-syndication-rights=”false”>

While no agreement for her release was reached, the Free Nazanin campaign has taken heart from the postponement of a court appearance on Sunday where further charges of espionage could have lengthened her jail sentence from five years to ten. Ratcliffe said:

“Today is one of the good days in the past 20 months.

“This weekend we had our first ripple of freedom, with the postponement of Nazanin’s new court case. Of course who knows what lies ahead, the past 20 months have had plenty of false turns – but my hope is that the ripple in the days ahead might become a full change of tide.

“My hope today is as Nazanin once wrote: freedom feels one day closer, that Christmas dream remains.”

It was feared Nazanin’s parlous situation had been made worse when Johnson last month erroneously suggested to parliament she had been in the country training journalists. 

But the campaign on Sunday said Nazanin has noted that in the last days building up to the Foreign Secretary’s visit that the Iran state TV propaganda against her – which Johnson’s comments helped fuel – has “lightened”. 

Richard Ratcliffe meets Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson.” alt=”Richard Ratcliffe meets Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson.” data-credit=”PA Wire/PA Images” data-portal-copyright=”PA Wire/PA Images” data-provider=”pressassociation” data-provider-asset-id=”2.33730884″ data-has-syndication-rights=”false”>

Ratcliffe added: “A month ago I was cursing the Foreign Secretary. It seems a long time. (Perhaps I reserve the right to do it again) But he promised when he met that he would do his best for Nazanin, and to date he has been as good as his word.

“He did get to Iran, he did get there before her court case, and that did make a difference. Of course, one swallow doesn’t make a Christmas – Nazanin is not yet on a plane. But it is good to have at least a swallow in the sky.”

The Free Nazanin campaign also quoted Nazanin saying: 

“Is there light at the end of the tunnel? I can see some light today, more than before. Having no court suddenly. It feels like God is protecting me. Can you please continue to pray.

“The court, the imprisonment emerged all of a sudden out of the blue, so I hope it can disappear out of the blue also – if there is enough will.”

The campaign has outlined the fragile state of her health, saying she has been hit by insomnia, severe depression and panic attacks, as well as suicidal thoughts.

Ratcliffe hopes to meet Johnson in the coming days following his return to the UK.

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Boris Johnson Ends Iran Visit Without Announcement Over Jailed British Mother

Boris Johnson, seen here with the country’s foreign minister, has ended his Iran trip without an announcement on the case of a jailed British mother” alt=”Boris Johnson, seen here with the country’s foreign minister, has ended his Iran trip without an announcement on the case of a jailed British mother” data-credit=”ATTA KENARE via Getty Images” data-portal-copyright=”ATTA KENARE via Getty Images” data-provider=”getty” data-provider-asset-id=”888725740″ data-has-syndication-rights=”true”>

Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson has ended a “worthwhile visit” to Iran without an announcement over the case of imprisoned Briton Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe.

During nearly an hour of talks with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, a spokesman for the Foreign Office said they “both spoke forthrightly” and “agreed on the need to make progress in all areas”.

“After meeting Dr [Ali Akbar] Salehi, head of Iran’s Atomic Energy Association, the Foreign Secretary concluded his visit to Iran with a meeting with President Rouhani,” the spokesman said.

Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, seen here with her daughter Gabriella, has been imprisoned in Iran since 2016” alt=”Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, seen here with her daughter Gabriella, has been imprisoned in Iran since 2016” data-credit=”” data-portal-copyright=”” data-provider=”Other” data-provider-asset-id=”205937276″ data-has-syndication-rights=”false”>

“In both meetings the Foreign Secretary discussed the full range of regional and bilateral issues, including banking matters and our concerns about the consular cases of dual nationals.”

The Foreign Office spokesman said: “We leave with a sense that both sides want to keep up the momentum to resolve the difficult issues in the bilateral relationship and preserve the nuclear deal.”

Johnson also held “frank” discussions in Tehran on Saturday with his Iranian counterpart, Mohammad Javad Zarif, which was described as a “constructive” meeting.

The invitation to see Rouhani was seen as a positive development given the often testy state of relations between the two countries, the Press Association reported.

It came as it remained unclear whether Zaghari-Ratcliffe would be taken back to court on Sunday following threats to increase her sentence by five years after Johnson incorrectly told a parliamentary committee that she had been in Iran to train journalists.

The Mother-of-one was arrested in 2016 during a holiday visit to show her baby daughter Gabriella to her parents.

Zaghari-Ratcliffe is serving a five-year sentence over allegations, which she denies, of plotting to overthrow the Tehran government.

Johnson has been seeking her release during a two-day visit to Iran.

The imprisoned woman’s husband, Richard Ratcliffe, expressed concern at the prospect of his wife going to court again.

He told the Press Association: “I am obviously watching closely with hope, fingers crossed.”

Ratcliffe said he hoped the Foreign Secretary’s visit would do some good.

“Hopefully, he will be persuasive and charming, and build a good relationship. It is definitely good that he is there, but let’s wait and see what happens.”

Tehran does not recognise Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s dual UK-Iranian nationality, and refuses access to her for representatives of the British authorities, making a prison visit for the Foreign Secretary unlikely during the trip.

Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s case is one of a small number of cases of dual nationals whose release Britain is seeking on humanitarian grounds on which Mr Johnson will push for progress.

Johnson’s trip to Tehran is only the third by a UK foreign secretary since 2003.

It comes at a time of tension in the Middle East over US president Donald Trump’s announcement that he is recognising Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

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Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe: Boris Johnson To Press For Her Release In Iran This Weekend

Boris Johnson is expected to make a visit to Iran this weekend to press for the release of jailed British mother Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe.

Zaghari-Ratcliffe, who her family says is in a fragile mental and physical condition, has been held in one of Iran’s most brutal prisons for almost two years on what supporters say are on trumped-up charges of spying.

They say the dual British-Iranian citizen was only in the country on holiday with her daughter visiting her parents.

Her plight, however, was made worse when Johnson, the Foreign Secretary, erroneously suggested she had been in the country training journalists. 

Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe with daughter Gabriella and husband Richard.” alt=”Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe with daughter Gabriella and husband Richard.” data-credit=”Changeorg” data-portal-copyright=”Changeorg” data-provider=”Other” data-provider-asset-id=”205891385″ data-has-syndication-rights=”false”>

The Guardian reported the planned trip to Tehran – Johnson’s first in the post – and that progress on Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s release may depend talks with senior Iranian figures including the Iranian foreign minister, Javad Zarif.

It seems likely the Foreign Secretary’s case will revolve around Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s deteriorating health.

In one of its most recent updates, the Free Nazanin Campaign reported she had suffered a post-traumatic stress disorder attack caused by state TV “propaganda”.

The campaign outlined the fragile state of her health, saying she has been hit by insomnia, severe depression and panic attacks, as well as suicidal thoughts.

Zaghari-Ratcliffe is due to make a fresh court appearance in court on Sunday that could see her five-year sentence extended by as much as 10 years. 

Richard Ratcliffe met Johnson last month.” alt=”Richard Ratcliffe met Johnson last month.” data-credit=”STEFAN ROUSSEAU via Getty Images” data-portal-copyright=”STEFAN ROUSSEAU via Getty Images” data-provider=”getty” data-provider-asset-id=”874409742″ data-has-syndication-rights=”true”>

The Guardian reported Johnson saying on Thursday her case was extremely difficult, potentially a sign the Foreign Secretary does not expect an immediate breakthrough.

Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s husband, Richard Ratcliffe, met Johnson last month for the first time, 19 months after his wife was jailed.

He confronted the Cabinet minister about the “traumatising” impact her imprisonment in Iran is having.

In a HuffPost UK interview at the time, he explained how he tries to be a “real husband” by trying to preserve the life they had in Britain before she was arrested.

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Video of live TV interview shows the moment a powerful earthquake hit Iraq

Witnessing an earthquake is surprising enough, even more so if you’re doing a live interview on camera and don’t exactly know how to react. 

SEE ALSO: Life in disaster-hit zones could improve with this multifunctional portable toilet

Hiwa Jamal, a reporter for Rudaw TV news, based in Erbil, northeast Iraq, was interviewing Ismail Namiq, member of parliament for the Kurdish Gorran Movement, which is based in Sulaymaniyah, also northeast Iraq. 

At one point, a magnitude 7.3 earthquake strikes and the guest can be seen sweating and visibly upset. 

“I feel there’s an earthquake happening in Sulaymaniyah?” asks the presenter, according to a translation by The Guardian Read more…

More about Iraq, Iran, Earthquake, Live Tv, and Tv Interview

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Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe On ‘Verge Of A Nervous Breakdown’ Amid Breast Cancer Fears

The British woman who has been jailed in Iran has seen a medical specialist after finding lumps on her breasts and is “on the verge of a nervous breakdown”, her husband has said.

Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe is being held in one of Iran’s most brutal prisons on charges of spying and spreading propaganda, despite only being in the country on holiday with her daughter visiting her parents.

Nazanin has been held for around 19 months, but her situation was made worse earlier this month after Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said that she had been “training journalists” – an erroneous comment that could add five years to her jail term.

Her husband, Richard Ratcliffe, released a statement on Sunday underlining her ill-health, and are calling for her to be released on medical and humanitarian grounds. 

The statement read: “Nazanin has been complaining of sharp stabbing pains in her breasts for some months. Her breasts have been painful since month five of her detention.

“She previously had been given an inconclusive mammography by the in-prison gynacologist.”

Nazanin has insisted on seeing an outside specialist for a second opinion, the statement says.

“The specialist consultant on Saturday said he felt them likely to be benign, expect for the fact that she had been complaining of sharp pains for over a year,” her husband said.

The statement suggests “she loses her temper over the smallest things” and “her mood has become uncontrollable”.

The mother-of-one has “expressed anger” at Johnson over the “shambles” her case has become but her family said they do not believe the Foreign Secretary should quit.

Ratcliffe said he spoke to Mr Johnson for about 20 minutes on Sunday morning, during which the Cabinet minister said he was “deeply sorry for Nazanin’s suffering”.

In his statement, Ratcliffe revealed Iranian TV had once more used the Foreign Secretary’s mistake to defend Nazanin’s arrest, and made clear her fury at Johnson’s error. He said:

“The report on Saturday repeated the argument that the Foreign Secretary had revealed Nazanin’s crimes, which he had been reluctant to comment on.

“(Nazanin) expressed anger at (Iran’s Revolutionary Guards) but also at the Foreign Secretary, that it had become such a shambles.

“Anger at the original comments, angry at the footage of avoiding the question.”

However, Ratcliffe insisted his wife’s interests were not best served by the resignation of Johnson, who has a “crucial role in the weeks ahead to stand up for Nazanin”. He added:

“So that this is clear – for the media, Government and particularly for authorities in Iran – as Nazanin’s husband, I do not believe it is in Nazanin’s interests for there to be any resignations.”

Ratcliffe’s MP, Tulip Siddiq, on Sunday told Sky News that that she had spoken to her husband over Johnson’s remarks and was “sobbing down the phone” and “couldn’t believe [he] could make comments that would endanger her life”.

Richard Ratcliffe has made an emotional appeal for help from ministers in a HuffPost UK vlog. Their daughter, Gabriella, is living with her grandparents in Iran.

Johnson’s comments to a committee of MPs appeared to inflame the situation worse after Iran’s state TV broadcast a report claiming the Foreign Secretary’s comments amounted to an “unintended admission” of her guilt.

The Channel 2 report said Johnson’s suggestion that Nazanin was “training journalists” when arrested in Iran last year had “dealt a blow” to the efforts of campaigners and UK authorities to support her position that she was in fact on holiday.

Johnson has admitted that his comments “could have been clearer”, and told MPs on Tuesday that the UK Government “has no doubt that she was on holiday” in Iran.

Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s employers, the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the Canadian news agency Thomson Reuters’s charitable arm, issued a statement in response to the Iranian TV reports, reiterating that she had never taken part in the training of journalists.

“Nazanin has never been a journalist, hence could never have trained journalists,” the foundation’s chief executive, Monique Villa, said. 

Earlier, Environment Secretary Michael Gove said he doesn’t know what Nazanin was doing in Iran before she was arrested and jailed – an intervention branded “shameful” by Labour given the renewed efforts to make clear she was on holiday.

This is a breaking news story and will be updated. Check back for the fullest version. Follow HuffPost UK on Twitter here, and on Facebook here. 

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Michael Gove Says He ‘Doesn’t Know’ What Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe Was Doing In Iran

Michael Gove said he doesn’t know what British mum Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe was doing in Iran before she was arrested and jailed.

The British-Iranian was visiting family in Iran, but is being held on accusations of spying and spreading propaganda.

Blundering Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson is thought to have added five years to her jail term after he said that she had been “training journalists”.

Prime Minister Theresa May faces mounting pressure to sack Johnson, who will not apologise for or correct his mistake. 

The foreign secretary has admitted he “could have been clearer” with his comments and insisted they had been taken out of context.

Now Environment Secretary Michael Gove has made an “unhelpful” intervention.

Asked what Zaghari-Ratcliffe was doing in Iran Gove told the BBC’s Andrew Marr: “I don’t know.”

Gove’s intervention, which has been branded “shameful” by Labour, will no doubt compound the fears of Nazanin’s husband Richard Ratcliffe, who made an emotional appeal for help from ministers in a HuffPost UK blog. 

Confronted with Ratcliffe’s repeated insistence that his wife was in Iran on holiday with her child, Gove said: “In that case I take exactly her husband’s assurance in that regard.”

Asked if she was training journalists, he said: “Well, her husband says that she was there on holiday, and he’s the person who should know. Her family should be the people who are in our thoughts at this time.”

Johnson’s comments, made during a Commons committee meeting, were seized upon by Iranian state media as a “confession” but Gove has insisted it is the “extremists” in Iran who are to blame for her incarceration, not the carelessness of his Tory ally. 

Gove added: “We know that the Iranian regime is capable of abusing the human rights of its own citizens. It appears here to be harming the human rights of someone whose plight necessarily moves us all.”

He claimed there was an “effort to shift the blame away from those who are really at fault here, and that is the Iranian regime.”

Zaghari-Ratcliffe was hauled back in front of an Iranian court after Johnson’s remarks  and now faces 10 years in prison for additional charges.

Gove, however, told the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show: “One of the things I want to stress is that there is no reason why Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe should be in prison in Iran so far as any of us know. No evidence has been produced which suggests she should be detained.” 

Jon Trickett MP, Labour’s Shadow Minister for the Cabinet Office, said:

“Boris Johnson’s cavalier approach to international diplomacy is compounded this morning by Michael Gove claiming he has no idea what Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe was doing in Iran. It has always been clear, she was on holiday visiting her family.

“It appears Gove is more interested in protecting Johnson’s job than the liberty of a British citizen in jail in Iran.

“Theresa May must ensure Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe does not pay the price for her ministers’ bungling.”

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BBC Question Time: Kirstie Allsopp Brands Boris Johnson ‘Disgraceful’ For Not Meeting Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s Husband

Kirstie Allsopp has branded Boris Johnson “disgraceful” for not meeting the husband of a British woman jailed in Iran who is fighting for her innocence.

The Foreign Secretary has come under pressure over the plight of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe after he told a parliamentary committee that she was training journalists – rather than being on holiday with her 22-month-old daughter Gabriella – when she was arrested and jailed in Iran 18 months ago.

It emerged on Thursday that Iranian state TV had framed his ‘false’ comment about her as a “confession”.

But on BBC’s Question Time, the Tory Cabinet minister was condemned by TV presenter Allsopp less for his recent error and more for the fact he has not met the husband battling for justice for his wife.

She said:

“I don’t know whether the Iranian Ambassador watches Question Time, I wouldn’t want to take any risks, and I mean that very seriously.

“I have followed this case since the very beginning. The plight of Richard, Nazanin and their little girl Gabriella haunts me. That little girl, who can’t come home to the UK because all that keeps her mother sane is her visits, and a father who hasn’t hugged his own daughter in 18 months because he can’t go to Iran.

“The fact that Boris Johnson has not seen him, given him 10 minutes of his time in the last 18-months is, frankly, disgraceful.”

Johnson’s remarks led to the 37-year-old making an unscheduled court appearance on Saturday where Johnson’s comment was used as evidence against her on a fresh charge of  propaganda against the regime.  

Richard Ratcliffe has made an emotional appeal to Johnson to focus on bringing his wife home.

Ratcliffe urged Johnson to “make good the promise he made to go and visit Nazanin in Iran” in a vlog for HuffPost UK.

Ratcliffe refused to be drawn into the row over forcing Johnson’s resignation, instead challenging the foreign secretary to help reunite his family for Christmas.

On Thursday, the Foreign Secretary said he hoped to meet Ratcliffe for the first time before he visits Iran in the next few weeks.

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Apple confirmed that it removes Iranian apps because of U.S. sanctions

Apple recently confirmed that it’s been removing Iranian apps from its store due to American sanctions against the country.

While the sale of Apple products is actually prohibited in Iran, Iranian consumers still get their hands on Apple devices like iPhones, reports the The New York Times. Naturally this has led to the development of Iranian apps, several of which Apple has shut down in recent weeks.  

SEE ALSO: Amazon under investigation for violating Iran sanctions

Apple told developers, “Under the U.S. sanctions regulations, the App Store cannot host, distribute, or do business with apps or developers connected to certain  U.S. embargoed countries,” according to The Times.  Read more…

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