Iran

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‘I Am Counting the Seconds’: The Iranian Dissident Set to be Deported to Rwanda

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 10/06/2022 - 11:24pm in

Frankie Vetch interviews a man facing the harsh reality of Priti Patel’s renewed hostile environment

When Bahram (not his real name) refused to fire on the protestors, it changed his life forever.

Last year the Iranian policeman escaped his country. 27 days ago, he entered the UK. Then 10 days ago, he was told he would be deported to Rwanda.

All that now stands between him and deportation is a decision by the UK High Court.

“If I go to Rwanda, considering the relationship between Rwanda and Iran, I will definitely be hunted down,” he told Byline Times. “I’d much rather go to Iran and be taken to my execution immediately, than for it to be drawn out.”

Bahram is just one of 130 people selected to be deported to Rwanda next week. To the Home Secretary, he is an 'illegal migrant'. But for many lawyers and experts he is a legitimate asylum seeker.

This is not the first time that Bahram has faced deportation. He escaped persecution in Iran by going to Turkey. “Iranian officers are known as having free reign in Turkey,” Bahram said. “There have been many arrests and many kidnappings by Iranian intelligence officers.”

Concerns about the safety of Iranians in Turkey have been raised before. In 2020, 33 Iranians were deported back to Iran, where two were killed for their involvement in the same 2019 protests that led to Bahram’s prosecution.

Bahram was only saved by a lawyer who freed him from a deportation centre. After this, having spent around a year in hiding, he felt the pressure on his family would increase. He knew once again that he would have to flee. 

“I contacted my family and they gave money to a smuggler,” he said. “I put my life in the hands of the smuggler.”

Bahram was first taken to a house near the Turkish coast and hidden. The house was dirty and there were 20 people in one small room. They were given a sandwich or two a day. He felt like he was under house arrest.

The night he left, they were shuttled out in groups of four. He walked for half an hour to a small boat. He was then taken to a bigger boat. Around 67 people were crammed into a 10-metre-long ship – the equivalent of fitting six football teams into a boat less than half the length of a tennis court. He had been sold a lie.

“It was not safe at all,” Bahram told Byline Times. “The smuggler had told us that it was about 27 metres in length, and had shown us pictures and videos.”

In the early hours of the morning, they started their three-hour trip across the water. “There were many times we nearly drowned,” he said. “There was a Ukrainian captain on the ship, if it weren’t for him we would have 100% drowned.”

But this was not the last boat he would take or the most dangerous.

When they approached the shore, those who could swim were told to do so. Some women and children were taken on small boats.

On the beach, they were divided into groups again and put into lorries. There was no way to tell the time, but it took Bahram and his four other companions at least two to three days to get to their next destination. Tucked away in a lorry, to eat they had biscuits. For a loo, a plastic container. In this lorry, he travelled an unknown route.

His first night free from the lorry was spent in a forest. It was very cold. At 5am he was taken to a beach. He had arrived on the French coast and was now to make the final and most dangerous part of his journey – the English Channel crossing.

There were around 10 men armed with guns and knives. The boat was a small blow up raft. The five of his travelling companions were soon joined by a growing crowd. 

“There were some people who did not want to get on the boat but were threatened,” Bahram said. “Because of that I decided that I must get on the boat.”

This boat was worse than the one they had taken from Turkey. It was just a life raft, less than 10 metres in length, accommodating at least 40 people. “At that point, you know it is not in your own hands,” Bahram said. “A wave would come over and you would think you would die.”

When a French naval ship dwarfed their raft 10 to 15 minutes into their journey, it stayed there, watching over them. Bahram realised it was trying to protect them from drowning.

After about five hours, Bahram arrived at the British coast. His journey from Turkey had taken between 17 and 20 days. He had escaped two countries and travelled across the world by foot, boat and lorry.

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Welcome to the UK

As part of the UK’s new immigration policy, refugees entering the UK across the Channel or by other so-called ‘illegal routes’ can be deported to Rwanda. Once there, they can claim asylum, but there is no route back to the UK. Priti Patel hopes the plan will “overhaul the broken asylum system and break the evil people smugglers”.

But experts, human rights activists and lawyers doubt the legality of the plan.

Gillian Triggs, an assistant secretary-general at the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), has said it is a breach of international law. The UNHCR has also said that the majority of people crossing the Channel are refugees and not migrants.

Between January 2018 and June 2020, more than 50% of people detected crossing the Channel were from Iran. Three other Iranians are reportedly set to be deported alongside Bahram.

Arriving cold, with wet clothes and an empty stomach, Bahram felt very happy to have arrived in the UK. But, just 17 days after reaching safety in the country, he was sent a letter by the Home Office – his application for asylum had been refused. He is now to be sent 4,000 miles – almost two-and-a-half times the distance he travelled from Turkey – to Rwanda.

Lawyers have filed a judicial review for his case today, challenging the Government’s policy of deporting asylum seekers to Rwanda. It could take months for the case to be reviewed and would likely be combined with other applications for judicial review. Bahram could still be deported while the case is being reviewed.

His lawyers, who have only had five days to prepare, will also potentially file for an injunction on Monday. If this is the case, the court could halt his deportation while his case is being reviewed.

Hamid Sabi, a British human rights lawyer of Iranian origin, said it is “absurd” of the Government to argue it is illegal to arrive on a dinghy. Under the 1951 Refugee Convention, if a person arrives in the UK and asks for asylum, they have entered the country legally.

Bahram’s ‘Crime’

In November 2019, protests erupted in Iran over the tripling of fuel prices. In response, the Iranian police and military cracked down on protestors using weapons. Amnesty International estimates that more than 300 people were killed.

The Aban Tribunal – an international people’s tribunal – was set up to assess the killings. Bahram was a witness, explaining how he was ordered to shoot protestors.

As a policeman with 60 people under his command, he told his forces that under no condition must they use firearms. Bahram said the protestors were cooperative, “very polite” and “totally peaceful”. But he said other policemen and members of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard started to shoot at people, killing some. 

“I saw snipers target anybody,” he said. “There was no rhyme or reason to it. Peaceful protestors were arbitrarily shot.”

After the protests, Bahram says he was arrested and taken to a detention centre where he spent 97 days in solitary confinement and was “subjected to the most serious types of psychological torture”. In one instance, he was handed a forged report, he says, that claimed his family had died in an accident and were in a morgue. He went on hunger strike and, after weeks, they allowed him to contact his family.

Bahram said he was given a mock trial in a military court, with no prosecutor or jury. It lasted 10 minutes and he was condemned to five years and 10 months in prison. He was accused of acting against national security and collaborating with demonstrators. When he was let out on bail, he fled to Turkey.

Shadi Sadr, a human rights lawyer and organiser of the Aban Tribunal, said that “Bahram’s refusal to fire and his decision to testify against the Iranian regime were acts of conscience" and that he was "punished for it once and is being punished again for trying to escape through the only way available to him”.

Sadr added that the UK Government’s Rwanda deal “is in violation of a number of human rights principles, including right to life" and is a "blatant breach of due process that bars basic rights given to refugees”.

Human Rights Watch has criticised Rwanda’s human rights record and poor treatment of refugees. Lewis Mudge, its central Africa director, has said that the “Government continues to embrace a policy of cruelty by sending refugees to a country with a track record for human rights abuses”.

Hamid Sabi, who acted as counsel to the Aban Tribunal, indicated that Bahram was a serious target for the Iranian state, having been a “very important witness” as one of few policemen to have criticised the Government. He also confirmed that members of his family have been arrested.

Nowhere Left to Escape

Bahram’s life is constantly in the hands of someone else. The Iranian state. The Turkish state. The smugglers. The UK Government. And now its judicial system. Not because he is a criminal but because, when he was in a position of power, he refused to follow orders by killing innocent civilians.

When Hamid Sabi escaped persecution in Iran after the 1979 Revolution, he did not need a visa to enter the UK. He questions whether, in modern Britain, he would be given sanctuary.

“The Iranian community in London are shocked,” he said, “nobody can understand where they found this solution to the problem.”

As Bahram counts down the days until he will be made to board a flight to an unfamiliar land – one in which he will once again be at the mercy of a foreign state – he is left in a prison-like detention centre.

“There are cells, they shut the doors at a certain point at night,” he said. “They let us out half an hour a day in the yard. It’s basically a prison.”

He has no safe way to contact his family directly and has to communicate through a friend. Bahram has not spoken to them for almost a month. Nor, he says, has he been allowed to see a specialist doctor to assess his heart condition. No medication had been provided until yesterday, when he was told he was to be given a malaria tablet.

“Right now, I am just counting the seconds," he told Byline Times. Trying to distract myself and tell myself that this is not going to happen... The only thing I can do these days is just hope.”

Bahram refused the malaria pill and told them he did not want to go to Rwanda; a small act of resistance from a man with nowhere left to escape.

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A Philosophy Journal That Won’t Accept Submissions from Iranian Citizens? (updated)

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 01/04/2022 - 8:32pm in

In a recent interview about Russia and Ukraine at Truthout, Noam Chomsky (MIT), discussing sanctions and the toleration dissident voices in public in the United States and elsewhere, notes an example of intolerance:

I recently heard from a colleague that an article of his was returned to him, unread, by a highly respected philosophy journal in England, with a notice that the article could not be considered because he is a citizen of a country under sanctions: Iran. The sanctions are strongly opposed by Europe, but as usual, it submits to the Master [the U.S.], even to the extent of banning an article by an Iranian philosopher. 

I asked Professor Chomsky for details about which “highly respected philosophy journal in England” this is, but he said he purposely left out details so as not to put anyone at additional risk of harm.

Certainly, there is no need to know the name of the author, but it would seem like a good idea to know which journal this is. If you know, let us know, or email me. Please avoid speculative accusations. Thanks.

UPDATE (4/5/22): A reader shares a form letter reply they received from a Wiley philosophy journal:

The journal welcomes contributions without restrictions from all over the world. However, we must follow sanctions law and regulations. During routine processing of your manuscript, it was recognized that one or more authors resides in a nation currently under sanctions.

This should not impede the management of the paper by Wiley, the journal’s publisher, if:
(1) neither the author nor the entity with whom the author is affiliated is on any of the following lists: 
§       http://data.europa.eu/euodp/en/data/dataset/consolidated-list-of-persons-groups-and-entities-subject-to-eu-financial-sanctions
§       http://hmt-sanctions.s3.amazonaws.com/sanctionsconlist.htm
§       https://www.treasury.gov/resource-center/sanctions/SDN-List/Pages/default.aspx
§       https://dfat.gov.au/international-relations/security/sanctions/Pages/consolidated-list.aspx   

Or, from North Korea, Crimea or South Sudan; and
(2)(a) is not employed by the government of Iran, Syria or Cuba; or
2(b)(i) is preparing articles in their “personal capacity” (in other words, “not as an official representative or otherwise on behalf of a sanctioned government”); or
(2)(b)(ii) are employed at an academic or research institution where research or education is the primary function of the entity. 
Please send us an e-mail declaring that individual authors residing in the country under sanctions are not on any of the above lists or from North Korea, Crimea or South Sudan and comply with at least one of the conditions
(2)(a), 2(b)(i) or 2(b)(ii).

Once we receive this confirmation from you, Wiley will be able to continue the processing of your manuscript. 
We apologize for any inconvenience caused by this procedure. If you have any questions, please contact the Chief Editors of the journal.

 

No War but the Class War: Statements from the Haft Tappeh Workers (Iran)

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 08/03/2022 - 4:05am in

Tags 

Iran

image/jpeg iconhaft-tappeh-worker.jpg

One section of our rulers wants us to believe that this war is a war against fascism, and another section wants us to believe that this war is a defence of the homeland. Interestingly, both sides, at the same time, through their mass media claim that they have popular and global support for this destructive operation. The various states of the world are aligning themselves imperialistically in the interests of their ruling classes.

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Seyed Mohammad Marandi on the Iran Deal and the Assassination of Soleimani

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 13/01/2022 - 9:42am in



VIENNA – World leaders have descended upon Austrian capital Vienna to participate in the ongoing nuclear deal being negotiated primarily between the United States and Iran. Today, MintPress spoke to Dr. Seyed Mohammad Marandi, Professor of English Literature and Orientalism at the University of Tehran. Dr. Marandi is currently in Vienna as part of the Iranian delegation.

While corporate media often portray Iran as a recalcitrant pariah and the United States as a long-suffering broker in the situation, Dr. Marandi notes that it was actually the Trump administration that unilaterally walked away from the agreement. Furthermore, President Barack Obama refused to live up to his promise to remove financial sanctions against Iran. “Obama, from the very beginning, was violating the deal, the most important element of the deal, because the banking sector sanctions are the most important part of the deal,” Marandi told Mnar Adley today.

Relations between the two countries fell to a new low two years ago this month, after the Trump administration carried out a successful drone strike against General and statesman Qassem Soleimani. While then-Secretary of State Mike Pompeo insisted that Soleimani was on the verge of carrying out an attack on Americans, the Iranian leader was, in fact, in Iraq on the invitation of Prime Minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi. Abdul-Mahdi specifically asked Trump for permission to invite Soleimani to his country. Trump acquiesced, then used the opportunity to kill him via a drone strike.

In response, the Iraqi parliament passed a unanimous resolution on January 5 (with many abstentions), calling for the expulsion of all U.S. troops. Instead, the U.S. announced it would build a number of new bases on the Iranian border, ramping up the tensions. Since then, Washington has continued to pile on the pressure, increasing its deadly sanctions regime against the country.

Soleimani’s assassination was not a purely American affair. Just weeks previously, he had survived an Israeli attempt on his life. Later that year, Israel would also successfully assassinate top Iranian nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh. Dr. Marandi and MintPress today discussed how the United States and Israel often collaborate to further  their shared interests in Western Asia.

Soleimani was best known and celebrated outside of Iran for leading the fight against ISIS in Iraq and Syria, successfully crippling their forces. The Financial Times described him as the “hero” who saved the region from Jihadists. Yet Western media largely sided with the U.S. after Trump’s decision to kill him. Suddenly, Soleimani was no longer a hero, but “the world’s no. 1 bad guy,” as CNBC put it. One reason for the shift in opinion in the U.S. was that Soleimani had impeded their attempts at regime change in Syria. As Marandi noted, emails published by WikiLeaks showed that the U.S. government was secretly working with Al-Qaeda to overthrow the Assad government, explaining:

When the dirty war in Syria began in 2011, the Iranians were not involved and, in fact, were advising the Syrian government to be careful, not to let civilians be killed and they were pushing the government to listen as much as possible to dissenting voices. But the Iranians also immediately recognized that there was a dirty war beginning … that Al-Qaeda was active in Syria.

The discussion also encompassed the sanctions placed on Iran by the United States and how Iran has partnered with Venezuela and other countries to help them neutralize the worst effects of economic warfare.

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The post Seyed Mohammad Marandi on the Iran Deal and the Assassination of Soleimani appeared first on MintPress News.

Cartoon: Bedevilled

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 13/03/2015 - 8:50am in

Tags 

Congress, Iran

Matt Wuerker
(Click for larger image)

Cartoon: Bibi rocks The House

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 06/03/2015 - 9:50am in

Tags 

Congress, Iran, Israel

Matt Wuerker
(Click for larger image)

Brian Williams' Iran propaganda | Glenn Greenwald

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 28/09/2013 - 8:47pm in

Tags 

Iran

The NBC star tells his viewers that Iranian leaders are 'suddenly claiming they don't want nuclear weapons', even though they've been saying it for years

There is ample reason for skepticism that anything substantial will change in Iran-US relations, beginning with the fact that numerous US political and media figures are vested in the narrative that Iran is an evil threat whose desire for a peaceful resolution must not be trusted (and some hard-line factions in Iran are similarly vested in ongoing conflict). Whatever one's views are on the prospects for improving relations, the first direct communications in more than 30 years between the leaders of those two countries is a historically significant event.

Here is what NBC News anchor Brian Williams told his viewers about this event when leading off his broadcast last night, with a particularly mocking and cynical tone used for the bolded words:

This is all part of a new leadership effort by Iran - suddenly claiming they don't want nuclear weapons! ; what they want is talks and transparency and good will. And while that would be enough to define a whole new era, skepticism is high and there's a good reason for it."

"Q: 'Are you saying that at some point in the future you may want to acquire a nuclear deterrent, a nuclear weapon?'

"Ahmadinejad: 'Never, never. We do not want nuclear weapons. We do not seek nuclear weapons. This is an inhumane weapon. Because of our beliefs we are against that.

The Iranian nation has never pursued and will never pursue nuclear weapons. There is no doubt that the decision makers in the countries opposing us know well that Iran is not after nuclear weapons because the Islamic Republic, logically, religiously and theoretically, considers the possession of nuclear weapons a grave sin and believes the proliferation of such weapons is senseless, destructive and dangerous."

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