Amnesty International: At least 161 protesters were killed in Iran | Page 2 | Iran International

Amnesty International: At least 161 protesters were killed in Iran

In its most recent report on the confirmed deaths during the Iran protests, Amnesty International announced that at least 161 protesters were killed in Iran by the security forces.

Amnesty International tweeted on Friday: “Since 15 November Iran's security forces have brutally killed 161 protesters. Their human stories are now emerging. We remember them & will continue to seek justice for them & their families.”

Amnesty had previously confirmed at least 143 deaths. The Islamic Republic officials have not released any official statistics regarding the killed protesters.

Saudi Arabia Says Intercepts Houthi Drones Aimed At Southern Region

DUBAI, Oct 25 (Reuters) -

The Saudi-led military coalition engaged in Yemen said on Sunday night it intercepted and destroyed a second, explosives-laden drone launched by the Iran-aligned Houthi movement towards southern Saudi Arabia, Saudi state media reported.

No casualties or damage were reported.

The coalition said earlier it had intercepted the first drone launched by the Houthi movement towards the southern region after the group said it had struck the kingdom's Abha International Airport.

The coalition, in statements carried by Saudi state media, said the attacks were aimed at civilian targets but did not specify the sites or mention any damage.

In recent days the coalition said it had intercepted and destroyed several explosive-laden drones launched by the Houthis towards southern border areas.

The Western-backed coalition intervened in Yemen in March 2015 after the Houthis ousted the internationally recognised government from power in the capital, Sanaa, in late 2014.

The United Nations is trying to secure a nationwide ceasefire to pave the way for reviving political negotiations to end the conflict, which is widely seen in the region as a proxy war between Saudi Arabia and Iran. The Houthis say they are fighting a corrupt system.

Saudi Arabia Says Intercepts Houthi Drones Aimed At Southern Region

DUBAI, Oct 25 (Reuters) -

The Saudi-led military coalition engaged in Yemen said on Sunday night it intercepted and destroyed a second, explosives-laden drone launched by the Iran-aligned Houthi movement towards southern Saudi Arabia, Saudi state media reported.

No casualties or damage were reported.

The coalition said earlier it had intercepted the first drone launched by the Houthi movement towards the southern region after the group said it had struck the kingdom's Abha International Airport.

The coalition, in statements carried by Saudi state media, said the attacks were aimed at civilian targets but did not specify the sites or mention any damage.

In recent days the coalition said it had intercepted and destroyed several explosive-laden drones launched by the Houthis towards southern border areas.

The Western-backed coalition intervened in Yemen in March 2015 after the Houthis ousted the internationally recognised government from power in the capital, Sanaa, in late 2014.

The United Nations is trying to secure a nationwide ceasefire to pave the way for reviving political negotiations to end the conflict, which is widely seen in the region as a proxy war between Saudi Arabia and Iran. The Houthis say they are fighting a corrupt system.

Iran Central Bank Not To Increase Interest Rates To Fight Inflation, Governor Says

Iran' Central Bank (CBI) Governor Abdolnaser Hemmati on Sunday said to lower inflation the CBI is looking for other methods rather than pushing up interest rates.

"At the moment increasing interest rates [to absorb superfluous liquidity in the market] is not a policy that can have definite success. For this reason, [the CBI] is seeking other methods to reduce the pressure of inflation in the markets," Hemmati said in an Instagram statement on Sunday.

In his statement Hemmati stressed that in the past two years the CBI has come under increasing pressure and enumerated the increasing impact of US sanctions, budget deficits, the pandemic and a drop in investment as factors contributing to the increase in liquidity and inflation.

The government's budget deficit in the first six months of the Iranian calendar year which started 21 March is estimated to be between 150 and 250 trillion rials. In the first four months of the year liquidity increased by 225 trillion rials, a report by Eghtesad News said on August 3.  This would be between 1.1-1.5 billion dollars.

In recent weeks many had been speculating that the CBI may push up interest rates in order to create a safer outlet for superfluous liquidity other than the failing investment market and highly volatile foreign exchange and gold markets.

Some experts blame the CBI decision in April to reduce interest rates from 20 percent to 15 for the drop in bank investments and speculation in parallel markets where many small and inexperienced investors are likely to incur losses.

IRGC Commander Warns Iran Will Not Accept A Geopolitical Change In The Caucasus

The commander of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards ground forces, General Mohammad Pakpour visiting border regions in the northwest near the battlefield between Armenia and Azerbaijan on Sunday warned, “Iran have no reservations [in how it will treat] anyone.”

Tasnim news agency in Tehran, close to the Revolutionary Guards, reported October 25 that during his inspection tour of the border region Pakpour said, “From the beginning of the [Karabagh] conflict we warned both sides through our border officials that any action disturbing the peace and security of our people in the region will not be accepted.”

More than 100 mortars and rockets have hit Iranian towns and villages since the fighting broke out in late September. Iran has not blamed any of its two northern neighbors but has warned both to be careful during their targeting.

Iran’s army (Artesh) conducted a 24-hour drill involving its ground forces in Western Azerbaijan Province, northwest Iran, bordering Turkey, Armenia and Azerbaijan, Fars news agency reported on Sunday, October 25.

A day earlier Pakpour confirmed the deployment of IRGC units to Khoda Afarin county near the border with Azerbaijab “for the protection of national interests and providing for the security and safety of citizens in the area.”

On Sunday Pakpour went a step further and stressed that in addition to the security of its population in the border regions and respect for the territorial integrity of Armenia and Azerbaijan, “We will not accept a change in the geopolitics of borders and this issue is the red line of the Islamic Republic of Iran.” Pakpour also added it is obvious that if necessary, the IRGC can boost its build-up on the border.

A few days earlier, Azerbaijan’s president Ilham Aliyev had announced that his forces have retaken all Azerbaijani territory under Armenian control on the Iranian border since 1994. If Azerbaijani forces reach the international border with Armenia, there could be potential danger of cutting off Armenia from Iran.

Iran Holds Infantry Drills Near Armenia, Azerbaijan Conflict Region

Iran’s army (Artesh) conducted a 24-hour drill involving its ground forces in Western Azerbaijan Province, northwest Iran, bordering Turkey, Armenia and Azerbaijan, Fars news agency reported on Sunday, October 25.

Iran’s armed forces are composed mainly of the traditional Army (Artesh) and the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) or the Revolutionary Guards.

The Fars report does not say when exactly the military exercise took place or how long ago it was pre-planned. Iran has announced the deployment of IRGC units near the battlefield between Armenian and Azerbaijani forces on southern banks of the Aras river, which separates Iran from its two neighbors to the north.

Iranian officials have also warned the two countries not to harm civilians in Iran. More than 100 mortars and rockets have hit Iranian towns and villages since the fighting broke out in late September.

General Kiumars Heydari, commander of the army’s ground forces was quotes by Fars as saying that following orders by Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei who is also commander in chief of the armed forces, major restructuring, turning mechanized infantry units into mobile attack forces. He added the exercise had both nighttime and daytime phases.

It is not clear to what extent the army drills are related to the ongoing war between Armenia and Azerbaijan, but Heydari himself was reported to be inspecting the border region four day ago.

Iran has good relations with both of its northern neighbors and is generally neutral in the current conflict, calling for talks and offering mediation. But any significant change in the balance of forces in the Caucasus could be cause for concern for Tehran.

General Kiumars Heydari inspecting Iran's northern border, October 21, 2020

Wall Street Journal: Iran Uses Iraqi Waters to Transfer Oil And Evade Sanctions

Wall Street Journal cited American officials saying Iranian oil tankers are constantly using Iraqi waters to transfer their cargo to other tankers.

According to the report, Iranian oil tankers transfer their oil to other tankers near the al-Faw port.

Wall Street Journal added: During this transfer, Iranian oil is mixed with other cargo in order to hide the source and finally be sold in global markets.

According to the report, this operation is part of a very profitable business during which Iranian oil cargos are transferred several times to other ships and get mixed with other cargo and are finally sold as Iraqi oil, which is more expensive than Iranian oil.

The WSJ sources say satellite images show these activities are on the rise in response to the increased pressure of sanctions on the Islamic Republic.

The WSJ recently reported from informed sources that the Trump administration is designing more sanctions against Iran before the presidential election to solidify the Maximum Pressure Campaign and prevent the efforts to render it ineffective in the future.

A former official in the Trump administration says that if Biden comes to power, he might be able to remove some sanctions on Iran as a gesture of goodwill, but he won’t be able to remove the bigger sanctions related to terrorism.

Biden has said that if he becomes president, he would return the US to Iran nuclear deal if Iran returns to compliance with its commitments.

66-Year-Old German-Iranian Dual Citizen Transferred To Evin Prison, Denied Meds

A 66-year-old German-Iranian dual-national, Nahid Taghavi, who was arrested in Tehran a week ago has now been moved to Tehran’s notorious Evin Prison.

According to Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA) Nahid Taghavi, an architect, was arrested last Friday at her home in the capital Tehran and taken to an unknown location.

The German-based group, International Society for Human Rights (ISHR) announced on Friday that the Islamic Republic security agents searched Taghavi’s homes and confiscated some of her personal belongings, including her German ID card, passport, cellphone, and some money.

Taghavi’s daughter, Mariam Claren says she was arrested “on the pretext of endangering security.” Claren said on her Twitter page on Friday that she has not heard from her mother for seven days.

According to ISHR, Taghavi is considered a political prisoner since “she has been campaigning for human rights in Iran for years.”

HRANA reported that Taghavi has recently undergone surgery and suffers from high blood pressure. A source close to the family told HRANA that since her arrest she has been denied access to her medication.

“Her family took her blood pressure medicine to Evin prison, but officers refused to take them and said she was in solitary confinement,” the source said.

Iran is holding several dual-nationals on trumped up security charges in what human rights organizations have criticized as hostage taking for gaining leverage over Western governments.

 

 

Trump Says 'Love To Help Iran Get Back On Track'

United States President Donald Trump said on Friday October 23 he would “love to help Iran get back on track” after it had “gone from a rich country to a poor country…in three years.”

In recordings released by the White House alongside Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu marking the announcement of ‘normalization’ of relations between Sudan and Israel, Trump claimed that Iran would “maybe become a member of this whole thing if you really want to know the truth.”

Trailing his Democratic challenger Joe Biden in US polls as the November 3 election approaches, Trump trumpeted a major foreign policy success in the normalization agreement, which follows similar agreements reached by Israel with the United Arab Emirates in August and Bahrain in September. The US president said that “this whole thing” would expand to have “other major powers involved.”

But while European and other powers cautiously welcomed Israel’s agreements with the UAE and Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and other Gulf Arab countries have not followed suit, while the Palestinians have dismissed them.

Russia, China, Germany, France and the United Kingdom, signatories of Iran’s 2015 nuclear deal with world powers, which Trump left in 2018, want to rebuild the agreement – known as the JCPOA, or the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action. Biden has pledged to return the US to the JCPOA if elected.

Netanyahu, who criticized the 2015 deal at the time and supported Trump’s decision to withdraw, spoke on Friday of a “better deal, a real deal” with Iran. Trump has demanded Iran give up its nuclear program and change its "behavior", refraining from interference in the region through building proxy forces and supporting militant groups. Iran says its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes.

Explosion And Fire At Petrochemical Plant In Southwestern Iran

A unit of a petrochemical plant in Iran’s Imam Khomeini port exploded and caught fire Friday afternoon, according to reports coming from media in Iran.

A safety official in the special petrochemical zone announced that the fire is “under control”. The explosion was heard by residents in the area at 15:45 local time. The official added that firefighters and operations teams are battling the blaze and “we did not have any injuries so far.”

The petrochemical plant also had an incident in July. During the summer there were explosions and fires in at least ten industrial plants in Iran. Several power generation and distribution hubs also experienced incidents of explosions and fires.

The biggest mystery explosion happened on July 2 in a top-secret uranium enrichment plant in Natanz, central Iran, that some government officials have attributed to sabotage.

The Imam Khomeini port is near Mahshahr county, in the oil-rich Khuzestan province where protests last November turned bloody. The Revolutionary Guards marched on the city and opened fire with heavy weapons on protesters, killing dozens hiding in marshlands.

 

Forty Days On, Afkari’s Voice Resonates As Mourners Demand Justice

The 40-day traditional ceremony, the ‘arbaeen,’ for wrestler Navid Afkari, who was executed on September 12, has taken place in his home village of Sangar, Fars Province, despite pressure from security forces.

Videos posted on social media from Thursday October 22 show Afkari’s mother and relatives chanting ‘Death to Injustice’ around a grave adorned with flowers and photographs of Afkari, 27, who was convicted and sentenced to death for the killing of a state security guard during protests in 2018. Loudspeakers played poetry, music and an audio recording Afkari sent from prison.

Sources close to the family have said that security forces had for a week put pressure on relatives not to hold the ceremony. Many on social media claimed security forces had blocked all roads leading to Sangar and its cemetery, searching cars and telling everyone except close relatives to leave.

Afkari always denied the killing, and said evidence in his favor was ignored by the court. “They wanted a neck for their noose,” he said, in a recording sent from prison.

The wrestler was arrested along with his two brothers, Habib and Vahid, who have been held incommunicado since a week before Navid’s execution at Adelabad Prison, Shiraz. The family have written to the prison judge asking for Habib and Vahid to be allowed to return to cells along with other inmates. All three brothers have alleged physically and psychological torture.

Thousands of Iranian launched a Twitter campaign to save Afkari’s life in the days leading to his execution, but the sentence was carried out despite widespread international calls for clemency. According to Navid Afkari’s family, his face showed signs of torture and battery when the body was handed over to them for burial.