NEW YORK, Feb 28, 2012 (IPS) - Amid mounting tensions between Iran and the United States over Tehran’s nuclear programme, perhaps nothing less than an Oscar to the acclaimed feature film “A Separation” could have brought smiles to the faces of millions of Iranians who see most news as bad news these days.
Written and directed by Ashghar Farhadi, “A Separation” was Iran’s entry for the Academy Awards in the Best Foreign Film category. An acclaimed and powerful drama, the film received the first Oscar in Iran’s cinema history Sunday night in Los Angeles for a sophisticated story that captures the essence of everyday life and the difficulties of being honest when it’s costly to do so.
In 1997, Majid Majidi’s “Children of Heaven” was nominated for an Oscar, but lost to “Life Is Beautiful” from Italy. Read more
March 18, 2012 Leave a Comment
NEW YORK, Mar 8, 2012 (IPS) - A United Nations envoy has called on the Iranian government to release all political prisoners and prisoners of conscience, and to conduct an extensive, impartial and independent investigation into the violence that followed the 2009 presidential election.
In a 36- page report released at the Human Rights Council in Geneva Wednesday, Ahmed Shaheed, the U.N. special rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Iran, catalogues allegations that amount to a “striking pattern of violations of fundamental human rights guaranteed under international law”.
“Mr. Shaheed’s report has utmost importance to the people of Iran, as it proves how oppressed Iranian people are and that their human rights are violated,” Iranian human rights activist and 2003 Nobel Peace Laureate Shirin Ebadi told IPS. “It is also important from an international point of view, because an impartial international authority has reviewed the people’s claims and has presented a report.” Read more
March 8, 2012 Leave a Comment
The Daily Beast- Asghar Farhadi’s ‘A Separation’ won a Golden Globe, is nominated for two Academy Awards, and has garnered worldwide support, but reactions among Iranians range from absolute praise to conspiracy theories, a non- political movie to a film in support of the Green Movement, or even a pro-Islamic Republic film. Which one is it?
by Omid Memarian | February 8, 2012 4:45 AM EST
The Iranian cinema is no stranger to awards from international film festivals. But A Separation, a film that recently received the year’s Best Foreign Film award at the Golden Globes as well as two nominations at the upcoming Academy Awards, has millions of Iranians and Iranian cinema lovers worldwide on their toes, anticipating the coveted award in the middle of escalating tensions between Iran and the U.S. Read more
February 8, 2012 Leave a Comment
The Daily Beast- A nude photo and breast-baring video of the actress have divided Iranians who see it as striking a blow against Tehran’s Islamist extremism, and those who condemn it as an example of Western moral turpitude.
| January 20, 2012 4:45 AM EST
The publication of a nude picture of a popular Iranian actresscurrently in exile in Paris has sparked enormous Internet buzz, and polarized many Iranians conflicted about nudity—at a time that Iran’s independent movie community is under severe repression by authorities. Is it a courageous act of challenging Islamic and cultural taboos, or an insensitive and selfish move that might give Tehran hardliners an excuse in to put more pressure on Iran’s independent film community? Read more
January 20, 2012 Leave a Comment
On Wednesday, a Tehran bomb blast killed Mostafa Ahmadi Roshan, who served as deputy director of commercial affairs at the Natanz nuclear facility. According to official Iranian media, a man on a motorcycle stuck a magnetic bomb to Roshan’s car as the 32-year-old was leaving his home. Two men who were accompanying Roshan were also injured in the blast. It marks the seventh attempt on the lives of Iran’s nuclear-program employees and the sixth death.
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton “categorically denied any U.S. involvement in any act of violence in Iran. “The United States had absolutely nothing to do with this,” stated Tommy Vietor, a spokesman for the National Security Council. Read more
January 13, 2012 Leave a Comment
NEW YORK, Jan 10, 2012 (IPS) - Less than two months before Iran’s parliamentary elections, as much of the opposition mounts a boycott of the polls, a wave of arrests and lengthy prison sentences for political activists and journalists appears to herald a renewed crackdown in the Iranian capital.
The pressure comes as Iran faces new sanctions from the West over its nuclear programme and increased tensions with the United States, with Iran threatening to close the strategic Strait of Hormuz and blockade up to a fifth of the world’s tanker-borne oil.
On Monday, Mehdi Khazali, the dissident son of an influential conservative ayatollah, was arrested and a few hours later, his popular website was hacked. Read more
January 11, 2012 Leave a Comment
UNITED NATIONS, Oct 20, 2011 (IPS) - The U.N. special rapporteur for human rights in Iran defended his new critical report on the country Thursday after it was attacked by Iranian officials, who continue to insist he will not be allowed to visit the country.
Ahmad Shaheed told reporters at a press conference at U.N. headquarters in New York that he is sure of the complete accuracy of the contents of his interim report, released last weekend, and will issue a more comprehensive report in the months to come.
The 23-page report criticised the Iranian judiciary for the treatment of two opposition leaders, Mehdi Karroubi and Mir Hossein Mousavi, who have been under house arrest for the past seven months. Read more
October 20, 2011 Leave a CommentThe Daily Beast- An outspoken critic of the Iranian government—and son of a conservative cleric—has accused Ahmadinejad of being linked to a banking scandal.
The Iranian president is taking heat.
Speaking in an interview with Voice of America, Mehdi Khazali, the son of a high-ranking conservative cleric in Iran, recently accused Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of being directly involved in a $2.6 billion banking scam in Iran. Over the past few weeks, the scandal that has taken place inside the Iranian banking system (Mahmoud Ahmadinejad appointed the latest governor of Iran’s central bank) has turned into a tug of war among Iranian political factions. Some even believe that the scandal could push the controversial Iranian president out of office. Read more
October 19, 2011 Leave a Comment
NEW YORK, Sep 23, 2011 (IPS) - Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s address to the United Nations Thursday followed the script of his previous six visits to New York, with strong criticism of the United States, messianic language, and vague utopian statements on how to govern the world, Iranian-style.
He accused European countries of “still us(ing) the Holocaust after six decades as the excuse to pay fine or ransom to the Zionists”, and condemned the U.S. for killing Al-Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden instead of trying him in a court of law. That was enough to lead diplomats from the U.S. and some European countries to walk out of the General Assembly hall while he was speaking.
The address “was similar in tone and content to his previous six speeches. It was a mélange of anti-imperialism, anti-Zionism, conspiracy theory, and Shiite fervour,” Karim Sadjadpour, an Iran policy analyst at the Carnegie Endowment, told IPS. Read more
September 23, 2011 Leave a Comment
NEW YORK, Sep 14, 2011 (IPS) - Just 24 hours after Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad declared that two U.S. hikers who have been detained for nearly two years would be released on bail, the country’s judiciary insisted that the decision remains under review.
Ahmadinejad made the announcement during an interview with NBC News ahead of his departure from Tehran to New York to attend the United Nations General Assembly.
On Monday, Shargh Newspaper in Tehran reported that Iraqi President Jalal Talabani had mediated talks with high-ranking Iranian officials leading to the imminent release of the two U.S. citizens, Shane Bauer and Joshua Fattal. Read more
September 14, 2011 Leave a Comment
The Daily Beast, August 27 2011- A controversial new movie explores the lives of lesbians forced to live in the shadows. Omid Memarian talks to women in Iran who say the movie doesn’t do their predicament justice.
Four years after Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad declared there are no gays in Iran during a speech at Columbia University, an Iranian-American filmmaker courageously portrays an unusual story of two Iranian lesbians who struggle under religious and cultural repression to explore their sexuality.
Iranians are, in general, culturally hesitant to publicly talk about their private lives and sexuality, so the sex scenes between two schoolgirls Atefeh (Nikohl Boosheri) and Shireen (Sarah Kazemi) in Circumstance, take the viewer to the most extreme parts of Iranian underground lifestyle.
While Maryam Keshavarz’s portrayal is bold, and addresses a major taboo in Iran, many lesbians who actively live and love in the shadows there say the movie is not necessarily a true portrayal. Read more
August 28, 2011 Leave a Comment
NEW YORK, Aug 8, 2011 (IPS) - Last week’s appointment of a ranking member of Iran’s influential Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) as the country’s new oil minister could lead to a more unaccountable and unpredictable military with greater influence on the government in Tehran, analysts say.
The IRGC currently controls Iran’s most powerful intelligence- security arm, which played a key role in the post-election crackdown of 2008 and the intimidation, arrests and imprisonment of hundreds of political dissidents.
It has built up a sprawling business empire since the 1979 Revolution, with annual revenues estimated at some 12 billion dollars and investments in sectors ranging from oil, gas and petrochemicals to cars, bridges and roads. It also controls the paramilitary Basij militia. Read more
August 8, 2011 Leave a Comment
The Slate, Tuesday, July 12, 2011 -This article arises from Future Tense, a collaboration among Arizona State University, the New America Foundation, and Slate. A Future Tense conference on the promise and limitations of using technology to spread democracy will be held at the New America Foundation on July 13. (For more information and to sign up for the event, please visit the NAF website.)
The Obama administration has begun taking action to bring Internet freedom to Iran. This sounds wonderful.
But this approach ignores two key factors: 1) Iran already has the upper hand in this battle; 2) the current approach is dangerous to activists and focuses on too few people. If the U.S. really wants to bring free-flowing information to Iran, it needs to rethink its current strategy.
I grew up in Iran and worked as a journalist there until 2004, when I—along with 20 other bloggers, Web technicians, and journalists—was arrested by security forces for my blog, in what was the first major raid against bloggers and online activists. After two months of mistreatment and solitary confinement, I was released and soon after moved to the United States. Read more
July 12, 2011 Leave a Comment
NEW YORK, Jun 20, 2011 (IPS) - Millions of Iranians who have lived under an intense level of internet filtering and advanced monitoring systems for years may soon benefit from new technology that sidesteps the censors.
Last week, the New York Times reported that “the [Barack] Obama administration is leading a global effort to deploy ’shadow’ Internet and mobile phone systems that dissidents can use to undermine repressive governments that seek to silence them by censoring or shutting down telecommunications networks.”
One of these projects has been dubbed “Internet in a suitcase”. According to the Times, the suitcase - financed with a two-million- dollar State Department grant - could be smuggled across the border and quickly set up to allow wireless communication over a wide area with a link to the global Internet. Read more
June 20, 2011 Leave a Comment
GENEVA, Mar 21, 2011 (IPS) - Forty-nine United Nations member-states have co-sponsored a resolution asking for a special mechanism to monitor Iran’s human rights situation, which is expected to be voted later this week at the UN Human Rights Council (HRC).
Instead of responding to the criticism in the four-week long sixteenth session of the Council, the Islamic Republic of Iran’s delegation chose to bash the human rights situation in the United States, the country leading the effort to intensify pressure on Iran.
Eileen Chamberlain Donahoe, the U.S. representative to the Council, told IPS that establishing a special monitoring mechanism for Iran by the HRC is very significant. “Because the council in the past has been resistant to taking initiative on what we call country specific human rights situation,” she said.
“There is a general sense that countries are often fearful of being criticized and therefore they would protect other countries from being criticized by the council so that when it comes their turn to being criticized maybe others stick with them,” she added. Read more
March 21, 2011 Leave a Comment