Features

Kurdish Talks + Another Hyphenated Iranian Arrested + More Drugs and Prostitution in Prisons

July 17, 2019
Maziar Bahari
2 min read
Fariba Adelkhah, a social sciences researcher, has been held by the Revolutionary Guards since the end of June
Fariba Adelkhah, a social sciences researcher, has been held by the Revolutionary Guards since the end of June
Entrance to the Cooperation Center of Iranian Kurdistan’s Political Parties in Erbil, Iraq
Entrance to the Cooperation Center of Iranian Kurdistan’s Political Parties in Erbil, Iraq
Mohammad Reza Khatami, the brother of the former reformist president Mohammad Khatami, has been jailed for saying the 2009 election was rigged
Mohammad Reza Khatami, the brother of the former reformist president Mohammad Khatami, has been jailed for saying the 2009 election was rigged

The Islamic Republic never fails to shoot itself in the foot. This week, IranWire reports on the arrest of a Paris-based social sciences academic and a French student, as well as on the continued detention of Aras Amiri, a UK-based student and British Council employee. Whether it’s studying Iranian society, promoting Iranian culture or reporting on women’s rights, these women have all been accused of spying or trying to undermine national security. Yet it seems obvious to anyone that hears their stories that they want to share some of Iran’s unique heritage with the world or help build a more resilient society so that Iran continues to thrive. Instead of being seen as assets to or good representatives of the country, they are targeted, persecuted and criminalized. 

Whether people are challenging the system or part of the establishment, they can still be targeted by the judiciary or Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, depending on the agenda of the moment. Mohammad Reza Khatami, brother of former reformist president Mohammad Khatami, was once part of the group that took 52 US citizens hostage at the US embassy in Tehran and so presumably regarded as something of a hero by Iran’s conservative factions, but 40 years on he’s been jailed for saying the 2009 presidential election was rigged. This week we look at some of his controversial remarks over the years — some of them not too far off comments made by those people calling for greater freedoms in the country. The transition from revolutionary maverick to outlaw shows just how volatile Iran’s political establishment is, as well as the fragile nature of its image of itself as an invincible power. 

The Islamic Republic has repeatedly cracked down on Kurdish political parties and ignored the needs and demands of Kurdish communities within Iran. When news emerged recently that Iranian officials and Kurdish groups had entered into talks, IranWire and others around the world had some big questions. Does this mean Iran is finally bowing to international pressure and using dialogue as a means to resolve longstanding differences? Is it a sign that the government and leaders are weak and have no other choice, as one skeptic has argued? Or are the talks just a form of political grandstanding that covers up what’s really going on behind the scenes?

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Features

From Iranian Slave to Austrian Asylum-Seeker

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Aida Ghajar
12 min read
From Iranian Slave to Austrian Asylum-Seeker