Radio Free Europe Radio Liberty – Informed Comment https://www.juancole.com Thoughts on the Middle East, History and Religion Tue, 24 Jan 2023 03:51:19 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.7.8 Iran Charges 16, Including Several Teens, For Protests Amid Reports Of Forced Confessions https://www.juancole.com/2023/01/including-protests-confessions.html Tue, 24 Jan 2023 05:08:10 +0000 https://www.juancole.com/?p=209642 By Ardeshir Tayebi | –

( RFE/RL ) – Iran has charged 16 people, including several teenagers, in the northwestern Iranian city of Urmia for planning demonstrations and accusing them of espionage amid reports those detained gave confessions after being beaten.

In November, 25 people were arrested for allegedly having connections with “spy organizations” and “attempted to deceive and incite youth and teenagers through social networks to join protests” against the government after the death of Mahsa Amini while in police custody in September.

A group called the Detainees Followup Committee, which was set up to monitor the arrests, said on January 22 that among those detained were several teenagers — including a 15-year-old girl — and eight women.

It added that 16 of the 25 are now being prosecuted in the case, and that even though none of them knew each other before being held by police, they went through “intense pressure during interrogations.”

“None of them knew each other before and during the interrogations. They were forced to confess against each other after being beaten and threatened with rape,” the committee said.

It added that the cases were being held in the Urmia Revolutionary Court even though some in custody should be in courts set up for minors.

Public anger erupted after the September 16 death of the 22-year-old Amini, who was in custody after being detained by morality police in Tehran for “improperly” wearing a hijab.

Since Amini’s death, Iranians have flooded streets across the country to protest against a lack of rights, with women and schoolgirls making unprecedented shows of support in the biggest threat to the Islamic government since the 1979 revolution.

In response, the authorities have launched a brutal crackdown on dissent, detaining thousands and handing down stiff sentences, including the death penalty, to protesters.

Protests in Iran do not have a centralized leadership, and protest calls are planned by people and often anonymous groups on social media. The country’s leaders have blamed Western governments for the unrest.

One of the anonymous groups that has played a role in driving the protests is called “Youths of Tehran’s Neighborhoods.” Other cities have seen similar initiatives.

The role of younger Iranians in the unrest has been accompanied by reports of mass arrests of teens and heavy sentences for those convicted in adult courts.

The U.S.-based activist group HRANA quoted an informed source on January 4 as saying that the Revolutionary Court in the northern city of Sari handed down a death sentence to 18-year-old Arshia Takdastan after he was accused of throwing a bottle and a stone at a police car during a protest in the city of Nowshahr in September.

The court said Takdastan’s actions constituted “corruption on Earth,” a charge often leveled in cases allegedly involving espionage or attempts to overthrow the government and which the courts have taken to using in recent months against protesters angered over Amini’s death.

The same court sentenced to death another teenager, 19-year-old Mehdi Mohammadifard, who was arrested during the same demonstration as Takdastan. Mohammadifard’s offense was helping to organize and lead a September 21 rally in the city of Nowshahr.

Human rights groups say the crackdown has left nearly 500 people dead and hundreds more injured, in addition to the arrests.

Written by Ardeshir Tayebi based on an original story in Persian by RFE/RL’s Radio Farda

Via RFE/RL

Copyright (c)2022 RFE/RL, Inc. Used with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave NW, Ste 400, Washington DC 20036.

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Iranians In Kurdish Sanandaj Renew Call For Regime Change At Gathering To Mark Protester’s Death https://www.juancole.com/2023/01/iranians-gathering-protesters.html Wed, 18 Jan 2023 05:04:16 +0000 https://www.juancole.com/?p=209518 By Ardeshir Tayebi –

( RFE/RL ) – Iranians in the western city of Sanandaj have marked the end of a 40-day mourning period for Homan Abdullahi, a protester killed by security forces in ongoing nationwide protests that have rocked the country since the death of Mahsa Amini, with renewed calls for regime change.

Videos published on social networks showed a large gathering at the grave of Abdullahi with people chanting “The martyr never dies!” and “Death to the dictator!,” a reference to Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

Homan Abdullahi, 21, was shot and killed by the security forces during the December 7 protests in Sanandaj.

Hengaw, a Norway-based group that monitors rights violations in Iran’s Kurdish regions, quoted eyewitnesses as saying Abdullahi was shot in the chest and died an hour later in a hospital.

Public anger erupted after the September 16 death of 22-year-old Amini, who was in custody after being detained by morality police in Tehran for “improperly” wearing a hijab.

Since Amini’s death, Iranians have flooded streets across the country to protest against a lack of rights, with women and schoolgirls making unprecedented shows of support in the biggest threat to the Islamic government since the 1979 revolution.


Screenshot from Iranian social media

In response, authorities have launched a brutal crackdown on dissent, detaining thousands and handing down stiff sentences, including the death penalty, to protesters.

The activist HRANA news agency said that as of January 15 at least 522 people had been killed during the unrest, including 70 minors, as security forces muzzle dissent.

In recent weeks, protesters have turned the end of the traditional 40-day mourning period following a protester’s death into a stage for antigovernment demonstrations.

Sanandaj is the capital of the western Iranian province of Kurdistan. Amini was from Saqez, a town near Sanandaj.

Written by Ardeshir Tayebi based on an original story in Persian by RFE/RL’s Radio Farda

RFE/RL

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The Taliban’s War Against Afghan Women And Girls https://www.juancole.com/2023/01/talibans-against-afghan.html Fri, 06 Jan 2023 05:08:06 +0000 https://www.juancole.com/?p=209250 By RFE/RL’s Radio Azadi / Abubakar Siddique | –

( RFE/RL ) – Fahima witnessed many of her rights and freedoms disappear in 2022 as the Taliban imposed sweeping restrictions on Afghan women.

An aid worker in Afghanistan’s southern province of Uruzgan, Fahima was employed in one of the few fields that the militant group had permitted women to work in.

But the 26-year-old lost her livelihood last month when the Taliban banned all local and foreign nongovernmental organizations from employing Afghan women.

“How will we survive?” Fahima, who earned $200 per month, told RFE/RL’s Radio Azadi. “I was the sole breadwinner for my family. After this ban, I don’t know what we will eat.”

The Taliban’s latest ban came at the end of a year in which the hard-line Islamists intensified their assault on women’s rights, including their right to work outside their homes and receive an education.

Days earlier, women were dealt another major blow after the Taliban banned female students from all state and private universities. Women had previously been allowed to attend university, although they had to observe gender segregation and a strict dress code.

“I sacrificed everything — leisure, food, and rest to get through medical school,” Meena Hasanzai, a university student in Kabul, told Radio Azadi. “I can do nothing but weep now.”

During 2022, the Taliban also banned women from gyms and public bathhouses and parks. Women were also ordered to cover their faces in public as the militants resurrected their notorious morality police, who enforce the Taliban’s religious edicts.

 

After seizing power in August 2021, the Taliban promptly banned high school education for girls, restricted women from traveling, and scrapped the Women’s Affairs Ministry.

Rights campaigners have accused the Taliban of trying to erase women from public life and imprison them in their homes. The militant group’s draconian restrictions have made Afghanistan the most repressive country for women in the world, they say.

Mariam Atash, an Afghan-American lawyer and women’s rights campaigner, said the Taliban’s curbs on women are “unjust, un-Islamic, and immoral” and “amount to gender apartheid worse than any place on Earth today.”

Observers have said the Taliban’s severe limits on women working outside their homes will also exacerbate the devastating economic and humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan, which is grappling with mass unemployment and soaring inflation as well as widespread hunger and disease.

“The Taliban’s restrictions against women and girls are devastating, and they have grave impacts on Afghan society,” said Zaman Sultani, Amnesty International’s South Asia regional researcher.

Fatima, a widow in Uruzgan, told Radio Azadi that she is at a “complete loss.”

“I don’t know what to do,” said the mother of three, who ekes out a living by cleaning people’s homes. “They have imposed these bans without even considering our problems.”

Women work inside a bakery run by a charity in the southern Afghan city of Kandahar.
Women work inside a bakery run by a charity in the southern Afghan city of Kandahar.

Activists have warned that the Taliban is likely to further erode women’s rights in the year ahead as the group reestablishes its brutal regime of the 1990s.

During its first stint in power from 1996 to 2001, the Taliban imposed a complete ban on female education, strictly forbid women from leaving their homes without a male relative, and forced them to wear the all-encompassing burqa in public.

“The situation is gravely concerning,” said Sultani. “The Taliban has nearly restored all the draconian rules that they had enforced against women and girls back in the 1990s.”

WATCH: Women across Afghanistan continue to oppose recent bans by the Taliban on education and employment opportunities for females. Male professors and university students have also protested against the increased restrictions on women in higher education.

RFE/RL’s Radio Azadi

Abubakar Siddique, a journalist for RFE/RL’s Radio Azadi, specializes in the coverage of Afghanistan and Pakistan. He is the author of The Pashtun Question: The Unresolved Key To The Future Of Pakistan And Afghanistan. He is also the author of the weekly Gandhara Briefing newsletter, which features some of best reporting and analysis on Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Via RFE/RL

Copyright (c)2022 RFE/RL, Inc. Used with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave NW, Ste 400, Washington DC 20036.

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Two Iranian Teens Reportedly Sentenced To Death Over Protests https://www.juancole.com/2023/01/reportedly-sentenced-protests.html Thu, 05 Jan 2023 05:04:37 +0000 https://www.juancole.com/?p=209255 By Ardeshir Tayebi | –

Iran has reportedly sentenced two teenagers to death for “corruption on Earth” and “waging war against God” among other charges often used by the judiciary to help the government quell nationwide unrest sparked by the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini while in police custody.

The U.S.-based activist group HRANA quoted an informed source on January 4 as saying that the Revolutionary Court in the northern city of Sari handed down a death penalty to 18-year-old Arshia Takdastan, basing its verdict on an accusation that he threw a drinking bottle and a stone at a police car during a protest in the city of Nowshahr in September.

Takdastan’s actions constituted “corruption on Earth,” a charge often leveled in cases allegedly involving espionage or attempts to overthrow the government and which the courts have taken to using in recent months against protesters angered over Amini’s death in September.

Meanwhile, the same court sentenced another teenager, Mehdi Mohammadifard, who was arrested during the same demonstration, to death for helping organize and lead the September 21 rally in Nowshahr.

HRANA quoted relatives of Mohammadifard as saying his confession was “made under duress.”

Since Amini’s death after she was arrested by the notorious morality police for wearing a hijab, or Islamic head scarf, “improperly,” Iranians have flooded into the streets across the country in protest, with women and even 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 arrested, including journalists, lawyers, activists, digital rights defenders, and others voicing opposition to the government.

Lawmakers have demanded an even sharper reaction, calling for heavy penalties, including death sentences, for protesters.

Two public executions already have taken place, according to the authorities, and rights groups say many other defendants have been handed death sentences.

Written by Ardeshir Tayebi based on an original story in Persian by RFE/RL’s Radio Farda
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Clampdown Reported In Iranian Kurdistan After Slain Protesters Mourned https://www.juancole.com/2023/01/clampdown-kurdistan-protesters.html Tue, 03 Jan 2023 05:04:36 +0000 https://www.juancole.com/?p=209192 By Ardeshir Tayebi | –

( RFE/RL) – Demonstrators in the western Iranian city of Javanrud were set on by security forces and have reportedly faced a martial-style clampdown since gathering in a local cemetery on December 31 to mark the end of the 40-day mourning period for seven protesters killed by security forces in ongoing anti-regime unrest.

Reports from Javanrud on January 1 described harsh security conditions and the widespread presence of Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) forces in the streets.

The IRGC and other hard-line enforcers have played a key role in suppressing dissent since the unrest was triggered by the death in custody of 22-year-old student Mahsa Amini in mid-September.

Local sources have accused government forces of using live ammunition and arresting protesters in Javanrud, in Kermanshah Province.

The protests there intensified after security forces stormed the city’s cemetery on December 31 and tried to disperse people who had gathered to honor the dead protesters.

Security forces also used tear gas and live ammunition against protesters in and around the cemetery, reportedly leading to the death of 22-year-old Borhan Eliasi.

The Kurdistan Human Rights Network, a group that monitors the human rights situation in western Iran’s Kurdish region, reported on January 1 that at least 15 people, including 16-year-old Arman Ahmadi, were injured by the firing of pellets and live ammunition by the IRGC.

Reports from the capital claimed the death of another protester who was recently temporarily released from prison, Mehdi Zarei Ashkezari. They said he was buried on December 31 in his hometown of Ashkezar.

Radio Farda was initially unable to confirm the specifics of those reports. The families of many detainees have avoided going public to avoid being targeted by authorities.

Anger over Amini’s death has prompted thousands of Iranians to take to the streets to demand greater freedom and respect for women’s rights.

Thousands of arrests have been made, and some protesters have been sentenced to death.


Protesters in Javanrud have accused government forces of using live ammunition. Via Twitter.

At least 58 journalists have been arrested, according to the International Federation of Journalists, including the most recent detainee, Mehdi Ghadimi.

Ghadimi’s friends and colleagues say he was arrested at his home on January 1.

Iran’s judiciary, which routinely withholds information including on trials in process, has not provided any information about possible charges against Ghadimi.

Written by Ardeshir Tayebi based on an original story in Persian by RFE/RL’s Radio Farda

Via RFE/RL

Copyright (c)2022 RFE/RL, Inc. Used with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave NW, Ste 400, Washington DC 20036.

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U.S.-Trained Afghan Soldiers Angry Over Their Plight Are Ready To Join Russia’s War Against Ukraine https://www.juancole.com/2022/12/soldiers-russias-ukraine.html Wed, 28 Dec 2022 05:06:16 +0000 https://www.juancole.com/?p=209058 By Michael Scollon

( RFE/RL ) – Lost status and a desperate existence in Iran are driving thousands of former Afghan troops — many of them elite commandos trained by the United States — to consider fighting as mercenaries in Ukraine and other battlefields.

Many ex-Afghan security personnel accuse the United States of abandoning them after the Taliban regained power last year. They also say poverty and security concerns are factoring into their decisions to take a private Russian mercenary group up on its recruitment offers.

According to WhatsApp messages viewed by RFE/RL’s Radio Azadi, some former Afghan commandos are already making the move to join the Vagner Group, also known as Wagner, a private paramilitary organization that plays a prominent role in the Kremlin’s war against Ukraine.

We had no place to live in Afghanistan anymore, because the Taliban terrorists chased us.”

Others currently living in Iran, where thousands of former Afghan soldiers sought refuge following the Taliban’s seizure of their native Afghanistan in August 2021, say they are living a meager existence, resorting to manual labor or even rifling through garbage to sell to make ends meet.

It marks a major turnaround for the former members of the Afghan National Army (ANA) and its elite commando force, which were trained by the United States and Western allies and formed the backbone of the former Afghan government’s efforts to defend the country and combat the Taliban and the Islamic State extremist group.

Afghan soldiers in Iran who have said they plan to take Vagner up on its recruitment offers say they were betrayed by the United States and the U.S.-backed Afghan government that they fought for. Many blame them for their current predicament.

The Taliban rapidly seized control of the country as the United States pulled out its forces from Afghanistan. Without U.S. assistance, Afghan forces quickly capitulated, and many Afghan leaders fled abroad as Taliban fighters descended on Kabul.

“After the fall of the country’s traitorous presidential regime, [the United States] sold us out and surrendered the country to terrorists (the Taliban),” one former member of the Afghan special forces, who did not provide his name, said in an audio recording posted on a WhatsApp channel subscribed to by former members of the Afghan military.

Article continues after bonus IC video
VICE: “Inside the Afghan National Army (Part 1/5) ”

“We had no place to live in Afghanistan anymore, because the Taliban terrorists chased us,” he said in the audio, which was posted on December 3. “Several of our peers were captured and beheaded, and we were forced to leave Afghanistan.”

No Life On The Run

RFE/RL was unable to independently verify the soldier’s claims, but the extrajudicial killings of former Afghan military and government workers is well-documented, with 100 such slayings recorded in the first months of Taliban rule alone.

Also widespread and well-documented is the belief among former Afghan soldiers, translators, and government workers that they were abandoned by their U.S. allies and that the former Afghan government botched the war effort and stole funds that had been allocated to the army.

Those claims have been backed by a recent report by Business Insider documenting that former Afghan officials smuggled nearly $1 billion in gold and cash out of the country as their government neared collapse.

In November, the U.S. Special Inspector-General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) cited corruption as among the factors that hastened the fall of the Afghan government and paved the way for the Taliban to reestablish control of Afghanistan.

Tens of thousands of Afghan troops who fought alongside Western allied forces over nearly two decades in Afghanistan are believed to have been left behind when the United States withdrew the last of its forces on August 30, 2021.

While an estimated 80,000 at-risk Afghans were airlifted out, those who were not had to fend for themselves, leading to concerns that tens of thousands of U.S.-trained troops would have no alternative but to flee the country, or join the Taliban or a regional adversary.

Many of them went into hiding in Afghanistan at risk of being hunted down by the Taliban, or fled abroad. By some accounts, up to 30,000 former Afghan soldiers made their way to Iran.

Fighting For Dollars

The former soldier who discussed his situation on WhatsApp said he fled to Iran for his safety and had lived there for several months. After receiving word that the Vagner group was recruiting Afghans to fight in Ukraine, he said he signed up.

“Afghanistan, NATO, and the United States brought us in as young men and abandoned us,” he said. “Russia started a program. They were recruiting certain units and taking them to the war in Ukraine. So, a number of our fellow soldiers signed up, and we are going to Russia soon.”

Another former soldier, in an audio message posted on the same WhatsApp channel on December 3, said he and a group of colleagues had recently arrived in Iran with the intention of joining Vagner to fight for Russia in Ukraine after hearing about the mercenary group’s recruitment offers.

Serious security and economic problems and extreme poverty and desperation have forced them to do this for a bite of bread, to survive, and to escape the pursuit and torture of the Taliban.”
— General Farid Ahmadi

He claimed that Iran was aware of the recruitment effort and was even aiding the process of transferring Afghan soldiers to Russia.

“We were in Afghanistan, and there were many rumors being spread that former military personnel had gone to Russia through Iran,” the soldier said, speaking anonymously. “We registered here in Iran. They transferred a few people before us.”

The soldier said that former Afghan soldiers were being offered permanent citizenship in Russia in exchange for fighting in Ukraine.

The former special forces officer said that his decision to sign on with Vagner was influenced by safety concerns in Afghanistan, where he said he and his fellow soldiers had lived in hiding and poverty for 14 months, and the chance for a better life for his family.

“We came alone, but a number of those who were transferred earlier are now with their families [in Russia],” he said. “We decided to go because of our situation and that of our children.

“We couldn’t leave the house. Most of our friends were arrested and killed, and most of them, like me, fled to Iran or Tajikistan,” he said.

We understand some Afghans may be vulnerable to [Vagner’s] monetary inducements, but would caution anyone from joining in the illegal invasion of Ukraine.”
— U.S. State Department spokesman

The former Afghan officer estimated that, based on his conversations, some 2,500 Afghan soldiers had left Afghanistan with the intention of going to Russia, where he said he was offered $2,500 for six months of training and $3,000 once he goes to Ukraine to fight.

Those figures correspond roughly with other reports and testimonials about Vagner’s recruitment drive, which also say that Afghan special forces troops and their families were being offered safe haven and $1,500 a month to move to Russia and subsequently fight in Ukraine.

General Farid Ahmadi, a former commander of the special operations corps of the deposed Republic of Afghanistan, told Radio Azadi that he believes security and financial concerns are driving many former Afghan soldiers to consider fighting with Vagner.

“Serious security and economic problems and extreme poverty and desperation have forced them to do this for a bite of bread, to survive, and to escape the pursuit and torture of the Taliban,” Ahmadi said in a live interview via Skype this month.

Radio Azadi has documented the lives of some former Afghan soldiers living in Iran, where they say they are reeling from their lost status and dire financial situations.

Sayed Ahmad Nouri, 38, said he used to serve as a special forces commander in western Afghanistan but now has to collect garbage in Mashhad to provide for his large family.

Nouri laments that he used to direct hundreds of troops and “tanks would move under my command, and I had complete authority,” while serving with the ANA. Now, he said, his family of 12 lives in a one-room apartment and “are sleeping on top of one another.”

Abdul Ahad Safi, a former ranking official who headed a government department fighting organized crime in Afghanistan’s Herat Province, now does manual labor at a Mashhad workshop to support his family of five.

He told Radio Azadi that he can “barely keep himself alive” because “my income does not cover our expenses.”

Bad Consequences

Aside from Russia’s war against Ukraine, a small number of former Afghan soldiers have been recruited to fight in other conflicts, including for Iran in Yemen, and in Syria and even in Nagorno-Karabakh, according to Ahmadi.

There has been no evidence that Afghan forces have actually reached the battlefield in Ukraine, and the country’s security service did not reply to queries sent by RFE/RL regarding the possibility that Afghans were fighting for Vagner in Ukraine.

In response to questions by RFE/RL, a U.S. State Department spokesman said in written comments that the department was aware of unconfirmed reports that the Vagner group is recruiting former Afghan soldiers living outside of Afghanistan.

“We understand some Afghans may be vulnerable to [Vagner’s] monetary inducements, but would caution anyone from joining in the illegal invasion of Ukraine,” the spokesman said, adding that the Vagner group “is used by the Russian government to support its dangerous and destabilizing foreign policy, while attempting to maintain deniability.”

Regarding claims by Afghan soldiers that they were abandoned by the United States in Afghanistan, the spokesman acknowledged the difficulties Afghans face in leaving the country, but said, “We continue to monitor the economic situation of Afghanistan and provide assistance, where possible, to the people of Afghanistan as part of our enduring commitment.”

Via RFE/RL

Copyright (c)2022 RFE/RL, Inc. Used with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave NW, Ste 400, Washington DC 20036.

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Taliban’s University Ban Signals Return To Past Repression Of Women https://www.juancole.com/2022/12/talibans-university-repression.html Sun, 25 Dec 2022 05:02:33 +0000 https://www.juancole.com/?p=208988 I’m Mustafa Sarwar, a senior news editor at RFE/RL’s Radio Azadi. Here’s what I’ve been tracking and what I’m keeping an eye on in the days ahead.

(RFE/RL ) – The Taliban banned women from attending universities in Afghanistan on December 20. In a statement, the Taliban’s Higher Education Ministry said the decision was effective immediately, and ordered educational institutions to inform the ministry of their compliance. The ministry did not give any reasons for its decision.

The move was quickly condemned by countries and rights groups around the world. In Afghanistan, female university students wept and consoled each other after hearing the news. Students in Nangahar University in eastern Afghanistan staged a protest on December 21 and male students walked out of their exams in solidarity with their female classmates. On December 22, around 50 women staged a rally in Kabul that was violently broken up by Taliban fighters.

Why It’s Important: The Taliban’s university ban is the latest restriction against women in Afghanistan. Since the Taliban seized power last year, the militant group has severely curtailed female education and women’s right to work. The militants have also imposed restrictions on women’s appearances and freedom of movement.

The university ban is a major blow to women. But it was also expected. Nida Mohammad Nadim, a hard-line cleric who was appointed as the Taliban’s minister for higher education in October, has said that female education is “un-Islamic and against Afghan values.”

The Taliban’s latest ban has also provided further evidence that the group is bent on reestablishing its brutal regime from the 1990s, when women were barred from working outside their homes and girls were banned from attending school.

What’s Next: When it seized power, the Taliban pledged to uphold women’s rights. The militant group projected a more moderate image to convince the world that it had changed. But the Taliban has failed to meet its promises and reimposed many of its repressive policies of the past. Observers have said the militants are likely to further restrict the rights of women.

Mustafa Sarwar is a senior news editor for RFE/RL’s Radio Free Afghanistan.

Copyright (c)2022 RFE/RL, Inc. Used with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave NW, Ste 400, Washington DC 20036.

RFE/RL

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Families Of Slain Iranian Protesters Mark End Of Mourning Period With Defiance https://www.juancole.com/2022/12/families-protesters-mourning.html Sat, 24 Dec 2022 05:06:24 +0000 https://www.juancole.com/?p=208978 By Ardeshir Tayebi/ Radio Farda | –

( RFE/RL ) – The families of the victims of the recent nationwide protests in Iran have staged protests amid ceremonies marking the 40th day since the death of 10 protesters across the country.

With police standing nearby in the southern Iranian city of Shiraz on December 22, people gathered to mark the end of the traditional mourning period following the death of Omid Moayedi, a 22-year-old killed by direct fire from security forces during a demonstration on November 15. Moayedi’s body was withheld from his family for several days, while his burial was performed amid tight security and with the presence of only a few of his relatives.

“Let them arrest and kill me. The blood of my child will not be trampled,” Moayedi’s mother told those gathered, adding that her son’s death was unjust.

Iran has been engulfed by antigovernment demonstrations since the September 16 death of Mahsa Amini.

The 22-year-old died while in police custody after she was arrested for allegedly wearing a head scarf improperly.

Police have responded with a brutal crackdown that has angered the protesters further while raising concern around the world over the poor state of human rights in Iran.

In the central Iranian city of Semirom, people came to the graves of at least four other protesters who also died 40 days earlier. Some took to the streets of the city chanting anti-government slogans.

Similar scenes were repeated in the city of Izeh in the southwestern Iranian province of Khuzestan, where people gathered at the graves of Hamed Salahshour and Artin Rahmani and chanted “Death to Khamenei,” a reference to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Rahmani, 15, was killed by a bullet during a demonstration in Izeh on November 16.

Meanwhile, a large number of people from the western Iranian city of Sanandaj also gathered at the graves of three dead protesters and chanted “The martyr may never die.”

Isa Bigleri and Zaniar Allahmoradi were killed by the security forces of the Islamic republic during protests on November 16 in Sanandaj.

Almost 500 people, including 62 children, have died in the police crackdown on protesters, while thousands have been detained.

Officials, who have blamed the West for the demonstrations, have vowed to crack down even harder on protesters, with the judiciary leading the way after the unrest entered a fourth month.

The protests pose the biggest threat to the Islamic government since the 1979 revolution.

Written by Ardeshir Tayebi based on an original story in Persian by RFE/RL’s Radio Farda

RFE/RL

Copyright (c)2022 RFE/RL, Inc. Used with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave NW, Ste 400, Washington DC 20036.

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Iran’s Executions Of Protesters Triggers Public Outrage, Draws Criticism From Clerics https://www.juancole.com/2022/12/executions-protesters-criticism.html Thu, 15 Dec 2022 05:08:46 +0000 https://www.juancole.com/?p=208808 By Hannah Kaviani

I’m Hannah Kaviani, a senior broadcaster and editor at RFE/RL’s Radio Farda. Here’s what I’ve been following and what I’m watching out for in the days ahead.

( RFE/ RL ) – Iran has publicly executed two young men over their involvement in the ongoing antiestablishment protests that have rocked the country since September. Moshen Shekari and Majidreza Rahnavard were both convicted of “waging war against God” and “corruption on Earth.”

Shekari, who was hanged on December 8, was accused of “intentionally injuring” a security officer with a weapon and blocking a street in Tehran.

Rahnavard was hanged in the holy Shi’ite city of Mashhad on December 12. He was accused of killing two members of the Basij paramilitary force. Rights groups have said the men were tortured and forced to confess.

Why It Matters: Iran is one of the world’s top executioners. But the recent hangings have triggered more anger and outrage than usual. Iranians have taken to social media and the streets to vent their fury. Some street protesters have chanted, “We will avenge the blood of the innocent” following the executions. In Tehran University, a noose was attached to a sheet of paper that read “Hope cannot be hanged,” one of several symbolic acts of protest across the country.

The executions have also triggered criticism from senior clerics in Iran. Molavi Abdolhamid, an outspoken cleric, has said the death sentence against Shekari violated Islamic law. Morteza Moqtadaei, a member of the Assembly of Experts, an 88-member chamber of theologians which oversees the work of the country’s supreme leader, also criticized the judiciary for handing down the death sentence to Shekari.


Via Social Media: University students in Tehran hang a noose in symbolic protest to the hanging of two protesters in Iran on December 13.

What’s Next: Iran is likely to continue carrying out executions, which rights groups have said are part of the authorities’ crackdown on the ongoing protests. Activists have warned that another young man sentenced to death over the unrest — Sahand Nourmohammadzadeh — is at imminent risk of execution. Iran’s judiciary says it has issued death sentences to 11 people in connection with the protests, although campaigners said that at least 21 protesters could potentially face the death penalty …

That’s all from me for now. Don’t forget to send me any questions, comments, or tips that you have.

Until next time,

Hannah Kaviani

If you enjoyed this briefing and don’t want to miss the next edition, subscribe here. It will be sent to your inbox every Wednesday.

  • 16x9 Image

    Hannah Kaviani

    Hannah Kaviani is a journalist with RFE/RL’s Radio Farda.

    Via RFE/ RL

    Copyright (c)2022 RFE/RL, Inc. Used with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave NW, Ste 400, Washington DC 20036.

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