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Entries in Reporters Without Borders (11)


Syria (and Beyond) Live Coverage: More Deaths, More than 200,000 Refugees

2000 GMT: Syria. The violence is usually the headline. The story is usually about the regime dropping bombs, or battles between the military and the insurgents, or the worsening humanitarian crisis, or the international response to the death. But an activist reminds us that, though they've been largely pushed to the shadows because of all the violence, there are still protests, even in the center of Damascus:

...Even though the most likely form of protest is a protest at a funeral, like this one in Idlib province:

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Iran Feature: The Week in Civil Society (Arseh Sevom)

The weekly round-up of developments inside Iran from Arseh Sevom, an NGO devoted to human rights and civil society:

In this week’s review, a former IRGC general writes a letter (1) which reads like a confession over the mass executions of the 1980s, the nuclear issue, and the flawed 2009 presidential elections. International sanctions combined with economic mismanagement are causing pain in Iran as families find themselves on the streets (2), paychecks go unpaid, workers strike (3), and projects “sleep". Reporters without Borders protest the detention of journalists in Iran (4), and the 12-year-old daughter of imprisoned lawyer Nassrin Sotoudeh receives notice that she cannot travel abroad (5). Iranians campaign against mandatory hijab (6) and a young woman writes a letter to an Ayatollah questioning its purpose: “Does this covering mean that I cease to exist in the society?” (6)The chief of the morals police calls for an end to State TV programming showing people eating chicken (7). One mosque encourages its members to voluntarily give up their satellite dishes and receivers (8).

Activists Protest for Release of Iranian Journalists

A demonstration organized by activists from Reporters without Borders outside Iran Air office in the Champs Elysees in Paris attracted attention as it raised questions about the well-being of the jailed journalists in Iran.

Activists in Paris used mock injuries and shackles to express solidarity with their Iranian peers behind bars.(Click to tweet)

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Iran Letter: An Appeal for the Iranian Journalists and Activists in Turkey

Iranian journalists are amongst those who have become victims of human rights abuse, as a result of their work in promoting human rights in Iran, and have been oppressed by Iran's security agents and judiciary. These journalists, with their writing and ideas for peace, have become targets for human rights abusers.

The increasing pressure on journalists by the security agents follows no laws and rules and this has forced many of them to leave their motherland, against their will, to seek refuge in neighboring countries and to ask for asylum from the UN High Commission for Refugees. Many are currently incarcerated, and those seeking asylum face heavy sentences if they return to Iran. Iranian security agents have threatened them on numerous occasions and caused them anxiety.

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Iran Feature: The Week in Civil Society --- From Forbidden Books to a Shrinking Middle Class (Arseh Sevom)

Official Book Fair and Unofficial Books

The annual International Book Fair of Tehran opened on 1 May and will continue to the 11th, even as the list of forbidden books grows. Authorities collect “illegal copies", sometimes turning them into paper paste (recounted in our review of 23 April). Meanwhile, a shadow book fair has sprung up featuring the forbidden texts.

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The Latest from Iran (26 April): A Nuclear Opening from Tehran?

See also The Latest from Iran (25 April): The Economic Challenge Returns

1951 GMT: Criticising the Diplomats. What do the "hard-line" Mashregh News and Baztab have against the Foreign Ministry's spokesman Rahim Mehmanparast? Both chide, "Why does he have British nationality and an expensive house there? Where do his kids live?"

1944 GMT: Foreign Affairs (Syrian Front). Al Arabiya claims that Ayatollah Ahmad Khatami, Tehran Friday Prayer leader and member of the Assembly of Experts, has declared in a speech in Kermanshah that the Islamic Republic "will not allow [Syrian President Bashar] Assad to be toppled".

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Syria, Bahrain (and Beyond) Live Coverage: The Protests Take Over

See also Israel Feature: As World Worries About Iran, Netanyahu Expands Settlements
Palestine Opinion: Britain's Deportation of Sheikh Raed Salah
Friday's Syria, Bahrain (and Beyond) Live Coverage: Will the Regime Challenge the Protests?

The opening day of the funeral of Bahraini citizen journalist Ahmed Ismail Hassan, shot to death two weeks ago

2224 GMT: Back from a conference to find that the United Nations Security Council has unanimously adopted UN Resolution 2042 for the first 30 unarmed military monitors, who are expected to leave within days.

The observers will report on whether the resolution has been met by "a full cessation of armed violence in all its forms by all parties". The measure also demands that the Assad regime implement the six-point peace plan put forward by United Nations envoy Kofi Annan, with the pull-back of troops and heavy weapons from cities and town.

A new resolution with a full mandate will be required for the full monitoring mission of more than 200 observers.

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Bahrain Feature: Challenging the Regime's Claims of "Reforms" (Bahrain Watch)

King Hamad bin Isa Al KhalifaWhile al-Saleh and Hamad touted police training, and the establishment of a Code of Conduct for police officers on 30 January 2012, Bahrain Watch has documented numerous ongoing abuses, with the help of activists on the ground in Bahrain. Abuses include brutal arrests and torture, improper targeting of individuals in the head with tear gas canisters, and the mass nighttime tear-gassing of residential areas, even when there are no protests. These abuses have been documented on an ongoing basis in areas all around Bahrain, suggesting that these abuses are not individual actions.

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Iran Feature: Saeed Malekpour, A Web Designer Condemned to Die

Saeed Malekpour and His Wife, Fatemeh EftekhariIn his photographs, Saeed Malekpour looks like an average guy, not dangerous or menacing at all. It's a far different image from that put out by the Iranian regime, in which Malekpour is a nefarious character hell-bent on corrupting the morals of ordinary citizens, insulting the State-sanctioned religion, and agitating against the Government and the Supreme Leader.

And it for that latter image that Malekpour may die.

An Iranian by birth, Saeed and his wife moved to Canada in 2004 so he could pursue his education. In 2005, he was granted permanent residency by the Ottawa Government. In 2008,  when he returned to Iran to see his dying father, he was thrown into Evin Prison.

The authorities said software that Malekpour developed was being used by the general public to upload pornography to the internet. Malekpour's supporters say he had no knowledge of that use, let alone intent to spread obscene material, but in 2009, he appeared on State TV to "confess" to all the allegations.  He was put on death row in 2010.

The verdict was annulled by the Supreme Court in 2011 and sent back to the lower court, only for the judges to re-assert the validity of the charges and sentence. Last month, the Supreme Court rejected Malekpour's last appeal.

Maryam Nayeb-Yazdi, the coordinator of the campaign for Malekpour's release, wrote yesterday: 

One of the lawyers said: “If we [Saeed's lawyers] had a chance to review the case file, then we would have been able to prevent the execution of the sentence. By conducting a review we could have pointed out that an expert has never been brought into the case for investigation. The case file was sent straight to the Circuit Court for Execution of Sentences without review.” He continued: “Since Saeed Malekpour’s sentence is in the possession of the Circuit Court for Execution of Sentences, this means that they are capable of executing Saeed at any moment they wish.”

Reporters Without Borders also criticised the death sentence and its confirmation by the Supreme Court.  

The Canadian House of Commons unanimously passed a motion against the sentence yesterday:

That this House express its deep concern for the safety of Iranian citizen Saeed Malekpour following reports of his imminent execution; that Canada hold Iran accountable for Mr. Malekpour’s treatment; and that this House call on Iran to reverse its current course, meet its international human rights obligations and release prisoners such as Saeed Malekpour and others who have failed to receive fair and transparent legal treatment.

Saeed's sister, Maryam Malekpour has written an urgent appeal to the United Nations to secure the release of her brother: 

We cannot believe Saeed was arrested in the first place let alone sentenced to death. We cannot believe that we have been forced to live a horrific nightmare every day for more than three years. Saeed can be illegally executed at any moment unless the international community defends his life. Saeed’s lawyers have told our family that the only hope left is the international community. All legal channels within Iran have been exhausted.

We are desperate for your help!

Saeed Malekpour's death sentence is now with the "enforcement section". That is the last stage before the web designer will be killed.


The Latest from Iran (3 May): Helping Syria Handle Protests

Ahmed Reza Radan1820 GMT: Ahmadinejad Watch. The President was back in public action today, opening the Tehran Book Fair with the declaration that "Iran is the guiding thought in the world today".

But the President's recent political troubles are not entirely behind him. The Supreme Leader's representative to the Revolutionary Guards, has made a speech saying that Ahmadinejad moved far in the last few days to meet the wishes of the Supreme Leader. However, Zolnour continued, there should be no doubt that Ahmadinejad's right-hand man, Esfandiar Rahim-Mashai, had "extreme" and "deviant" views.

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Iran Feature: A Blogging Competition (Within Limits)

Weblognews.irElizabeth Flock of The Washington Post follows up on a story first reported by Deutsche Welle, which is holding its own competition for Best Persian Blog.

Of course, we will be watching to see how EA fares in the Iranian contest:

Iran, a country that holds the “grim distinction” of having arrested and jailed the most bloggers, according to journalist watchdog group Reporters Without Borders, has organized a blogging competition.

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