The story of Alireza Rajaei, the journalist who recently underwent major surgery due to medical neglect while in prison, continues to shock people around the world. It led human rights lawyer and Nobel laureate Shirin Ebadi to accuse Iran's judiciary of laying the foundations for the “silent death” of political prisoners and anyone who dares to criticize the government.
Ebadi accuses President Rouhani of lying about the human rights situation in Iran. Anyone following the story of Soheil Arabi, in prison because of comments he shared on Facebook, would find this easy to believe. A few days ago, Arabi, who is on hunger strike and suffering from severe health problems, said goodbye to his family, admitting that he’s “tired of fighting.” His mother says his “only crime was to express his opinion,” and has appealed to him to stop his strike. Soheil says he wants his experience to have an impact on the future: “Never let them torture someone else for his beliefs,” he told his family.
Many Iranian officials are not only miserable, but also enjoy being world-class party poopers. This week we reported the story of chess genius Dora Derakshani, who faced harsh criticism for not wearing hijab during an international tournament in 2016. She simply didn’t want to wear the headscarf because she said it’s distracting. Iranians around the world celebrated her success, but some Iranian officials called her and her brother, who competed against an Israeli champion, “agents of the west” and demanded that Dorsa and her brother be punished. Dorsa has moved to the US and won’t be playing for Iran in international tournaments anymore.
Many apologists for the Iranian government around the world argue that issues like press freedom or hijab are not that important, and that the Iranian government is doing a brilliant job at keeping the country secure and helping the poor. But that simply is not true. Decades of mismanagement and bad policies have made Iranians poorer. This week IranWire looks at recent data about the dire situation of Iran’s poor. More than 40 percent of Iranian households live under the poverty line set by the government.
Sorry about yet another relatively sad newsletter, but my colleagues and I are more determined than ever to cover these difficult issues for you.
As always, please let me know if you have any comments.
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