“Not a Single Mention of Release of Political Prisoners or Human Rights Violations” – an Iranian’s Opinion on the Lift of Sanctions

Today when the world celebrates the lifting of US sanctions against Iran, and CNN’s headline blasts out “Flight to Freedom”, on the previously imprisoned Americans that has been released as a part of the peace agreement, I wanted to have an Iranian’s point of view. A friend of mine gave his opinion, on the condition of anonymity.

Today, 17th of January 2016, Iranians woke up to their first day without sanctions. Whilst a lot of people will rejoice and feel relieved from an economical sense, pragmatically this just means Iran has gone back to 2006 when (the latest) sanctions were put in place. 

During the sanctions the wealthy, those with connections, those who succumbed to corruption found ways to bypass international laws and got richer. Of course as a consequence the country as a whole got poorer because a lot of oil and other resources were sold far below market price to China, India and elsewhere or re-branded as some other country. Whilst people were complaining about medicine shortage, sports cars were being imported at a never seen rate.

People similar to Babak Zanjani and countless others are now eagerly awaiting the influx of money. 100 billion dollars of assets are set to be released and Western companies can do business again.

Except, no one asks themselves, who will the money go to? Will the removal of sanctions act like some cataclysm to unlock the gross unemployment, the gross violations of human rights and everything else that is wrong with the system?

Of course not. To understand why, you simply have to look at the terms of the nuclear negotiations.

The West wanted Iran to stop pursuing even the ability to obtain an atomic bomb and Iran wanted to export its oil again and buy stuff from the global market. What’s missing?

Not a single mention of release of political prisoners, human rights violations, indictment of international criminals, free elections, gender equality and so much more. In the end it was about protecting interest. Iran could continue to do whatever it wanted internally to its population as exemplified by the record number of executions in 2015 so long as it stayed off course for an atomic bomb. If the West was serious about handling the Iranian regime it could have easily put further terms in the negotiations that meant release of all political prisoners and a return to free elections. In all likelihood they probably could have got the Iranians to agree sooner or later. 

In the end the removal of sanctions will simply mean that those with power will now have access to more cheap capital to invest in their projects and assign their family members and friends to various positions.

Yes, probably there will be jobs created. Someone after all has to do the hard labour work.

But will Iran change for the better? Will the arrest of those who dare to oppose with nothing but their words, stop?

Of course not. Internally things will continue and the everyone will be happy that diplomacy has worked.

The Death of a Woman – the Case of Farinaz Koshravani

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Farinaz Koshravani

Did the news reach you about Farinaz Koshravani? She was a Kurdish-Irani woman who allegedly jumped or fell to death from the 4th floor at Tara hotel where she was working, in order to escape rape. Her fellow Iranian Reyhaneh Jabbari chose a different way when facing rape: she stabbed her attacker in self-defense, and for that she was herself killed, hanged in Gohardasht prison on October 25 last year.

Farinaz worked as a hotel maid in the Kurdish part of Iran, in the city of Mahabad. Violent demonstrations broke out after the news of her death and the hotel was attacked and burned. It’s still not confirmed whether she jumped herself or fell to her death, but one man has been detained, who has confessed he “was with” Farina before her death. Rumours claim he is a government official who had connections with the hotel and therefore was free to try and assault women in the hotel.

I asked a friend of mine who is from Iran, what she as an Iranian woman thought about the death of Farinaz. This is what she had to say:

Analyzing women issues is very complicated and difficult in Iran, mostly because we have not enough right to talk, share and to discuss about problems as much as men. Here again I hear about an accident which the victim is a woman. A woman who is not clear that has been suicide for protecting herself against being raped or she was murdered when she was hiding her relationship with a guy there. The only thing that is obvious here is this woman was murdered just because he scared of something and jumping from balcony to another one at the hotel was certainly an idea to runaway from the danger.”

Nowadays it is like a common story in accident page of Iran news! When a man spreads acid on a woman’s face or a husband who was in doubt about his wife relationship with another man kills her! You know the most painful part is, we never understand well who is the accused and why this accident should been happen? The worst issue after this is when you hear the killer pays the blood money to the judiciary and it is even half of the amount one pays for a man and gets free! The government and judiciary easily ignore many things about women and prefer them to just be quiet for everything. They always prefer to point to women instead of men for such accusations.

There are a lot of these examples in judiciary folders that hasn’t been solved yet or just led to very not fair results. And all those women who don’t know they should be sorry for protecting themselves or should accept the attack!

I’m just happy that woman activities against unfair woman laws are increasing and people bit by bit are understanding that they should not trust the government and wait for them to bring back the rights for them. It is something they have to learn the concepts by themselves and teach to their children from now on, for being a part of our culture in the near future.

Photo copyright: ekurd.net

“You as a Woman are Guilty Until You Prove the Opposite” – The Execution of Reyhaneh Jabbari

taz.de

Reyhaneh Jabbari

As Reyhaneh Jabbari was hanged yesterday, the 26-year old Iranian woman convicted of stabbing a man who tried to rape her, international media filled up with stories about the unfair trial and the torture Reyhaneh supposedly was exposed to before being sentenced.

Reyhaneh claimed that she met Morteza Abdolali Sarbandi in a coffee shop and after he asked her to come to his office to discuss a business deal, he tried to rape her, why she in selfdefence stabbed him with her pocket knife before fleeing. Her lawyer reportedly published on his blog about the unfair trial against Reyhaneh as a plea for help, there were media campaigns against Reyhaneh’s execution, but the media attention didn’t help. After 7 years in prison, for which under some time she was prevented from contact with her family and from having a lawyer, she was hanged in Gohardasht prison in Teheran on the morning of Saturday October 25.

I asked an Iranian man that I know who’s living outside of Iran how he felt about the hanging, and he had many things to say. These are his words:

“Reyaneh has basically been considered guilty to one thing, and that is that she has defended herself as a woman. In many ways you as a woman are considered to be guilty until you in some way prove the opposite. ‘Evidence’ is here quite an irrelevant word.”

He talks about how the police in Iran are not conducting proper forensic investigations, and that facts is not important in the judicial system.

“If the judge thinks she is guilty for whatever reason,  she is guilty no matter what the circumstances are. It’s also ridiculously humiliating that Reyhaneh’s family have to ask the man’s family for mercy so that they shall spare her life. In this way the system is positioning one family against another. It’s not about proportion, facts or the right to defend yourself, but simply about a system that wants to prove that you as a woman shall not defend yourself and that you don’t have the right to a fair trial. But these kind of cases are not uncommon in Iran, there are worse… In the bigger picture this is not surprising. In Isfahan women have had acid thrown on their faces. This is just one case of many.”

Photo credit: taz.de

I Love My Country

IMG_0004I love my country and am proud when telling someone I’m from Sweden. I’m aware of the negative aspects some people would hand to you (the weather is depressing, it’s hard to make Swedish friends, there are stupid rules for everything, even alcohol is only available in state-owned shops with limited opening hours) and I will agree with some of these things – but if I hear someone critizice Sweden too much I get sad. Why? Because it’s my country!

In an ideal world everyone would love their country and be proud when telling someone where they are from. I once met a guy in a party who asked me to go on a date with him, that said he was from “close to the Iranian border”, when he really was from Afghanistan (I have a tendency to ask people around one million questions when I meet them, so he couldn’t hide this fact for too long). This I find a bit sad, since he obviously didn’t think he’d have a chance with a white girl if he said where he really was from. In an ideal world people wouldn’t be ashamed of being American because many people dislike George W Bush; Germany because it started the Second World War; an underdeveloped country because it’s an underdeveloped country. I believe that change must come from both the outside as from within, why I want to challenge everyone to say that they love their country and give at least three reasons why. No country can be so bad that you cannot give at least three reasons to love it, right? Here’s why I love Sweden:

I love that there are bike paths everywhere

I love that if you see a homeless cat or dog you call the police and they will come and take it to a shelter

I love that people are honest to the point where it hurts, but at least you won’t get fooled (“If I want to hang out with you this weekend? No, I don’t think we have much in common”)

Which ones are yours?

Photo: Copyright Sweden and the Middle East Blog

Sweden celebrates Newroz

eldar

Yesterday we celebrated Newroz, the Iranian/Kurdish New Year, here in Malmö where I live. The municipality had invited the public to live music by the singer Cameron Cartio and politicians’ speeches. Families lined up in the queue for the child-friendly small fires, Swedish style behind safety bars. My Iranian friend muttered: “This is typically Sweden, people even have to queue for jumping over a small fire”. We all had a great time, singing along to Cameron’s nonsense-songs that made him so famous (the invented words reminds about Farsi but have no meaning).

Swedes are usually great at admiring ourselves for our hospitality towards foreigners and all-inclusive welfare system, and Malmö is one of the most mixed cities with 30% of its inhabitants born abroad. The last years though, the city of Malmö had less reasons to be proud. In 2009-2010 there were horrifying shootings towards immigrants, keeping the whole city under siege before the shooter was arrested, and in Southern Sweden the xenophobic party Sverigedemokraterna (“The Sweden Democrats”) have gained strong support, creating tensions between people and fear among those who are a target.

I love dancing and music and yesterday was no exception, but there is another reason to like the Swedish Newroz celebrations. During times like this when many people seem to fear the other, there is nothing better than getting to know each other. I was happy that Malmö municipality gave us the chance to celebrate Newroz together yesterday, safe and boring Sweden-style, singing silly words with no meaning.

Photo: Copyright Sweden and the Middle East Blog