Displaying items by tag: Iran
The head of Iran's prison service has apologised after hackers leaked videos showing the abuse of detainees at Tehran's notorious Evin prison. The security footage showed guards beating prisoners and dragging one along a floor. Mohammad Mehdi Haj-Mohammadi said he took responsibility for the ‘unacceptable behaviour’. Many political prisoners and dual and foreign nationals are held at Evin. BBC's Jiyar Gol says the leaked videos confirm decades of reports of mistreatment and abuse at prisons across Iran. Also, former political prisoners say the footage is nothing compared to what they experienced in detention. They accuse authorities of routinely using sexual, physical and psychological torture - a charge Iran's government denies. The hacked screen showed the message, ‘Evin Prison is a stain of shame on Raisi's black turban and white beard’ - a reference to Iran's new president, who is a hardline cleric and former judiciary chief.
Two days after the Taliban captured Kabul, Iran's foreign ministry said its embassy continues its normal operations. Its consulate in Herat, close to the Iranian border, also remains fully operational. Iran's embassy is among a handful of foreign missions still open, including the embassies of Russia, China and Pakistan. All have signalled possible recognition of an emerging Taliban-controlled Afghanistan. In the midst of the withdrawal of American and foreign troops from Afghanistan, Tehran hosted Taliban and government delegations in an effort to be a key player in the political scene. Iranian officials and state-funded media face accusations of attempting to ‘canonise the Taliban’. The move is not welcomed by the Iranian public or pro-reform papers. Iran's social media is inundated with messages of solidarity with the ‘betrayed’ Afghan people. Individual Iranians are volunteering to adopt abandoned Afghan children.
19 rockets fired by Hezbollah into northern Israel on 7 August sent local residents into the towns’ shelters. These barrages, the first since the 2006 second Lebanon War, followed similar attacks the previous day. More provocations from Tehran by the new hard-line leader, Ebrahim Raisi, and his proxies increase the likelihood of Israel’s retaliation. The defence minister recently indicated that Israel is ready to counter Iran's aggression. The UN peacekeeping mission in Lebanon said the situation is ‘very serious’ and urged everyone to cease fire. But on 11 August rockets were fired again from Lebanon into Israel, which increases the threat of major hostilities after fifteen years. Pray for an end to these ongoing games of brinkmanship so that harmony between Israel and Hezbollah holds. May the prospect of full-scale war be a disincentive for either side to push too far.
The Asphalt Princess tanker was hijacked and boarded by nine armed men and ordered to sail to Iran through the congested approach to the Strait of Hormuz. Israel's prime minister Naftali Bennett said there was ‘evidence’ that its long standing foe Iran was responsible. Iran's Revolutionary Guards dismissed the reports as a pretext for ‘hostile action’ against Tehran. The tanker is owned by a Dubai-based company that had one of its ships hijacked two years ago by the revolutionary guards. The following day the hijackers left the tanker. A week earlier the Israeli-owned Mercer Street was attacked by a drone, killing two security guards. The US, UK and Israel blamed Iran for the attack - a claim it strongly denies. These attacks appear to be the latest escalation in an undeclared ‘shadow war’ between Israel and Iran. For months there have been several attacks on both Israeli- and Iranian-operated vessels, which are seen as tit-for-tat incidents. See
On 6 July Tehran informed the International Atomic Energy Agency that it was enriching uranium to 20% at its research reactor. Uranium metal is used to make a nuclear warhead core. The development immediately prompted Berlin, London and Paris, which are all parties to the 2015 nuclear deal - along with the USA, Russia, and China - to issue a damning joint statement accusing Iran of a ‘grave breach’ of its obligations. ‘Iran has no credible civilian need for uranium metal R&D and production, which are a key step in the development of a nuclear weapon,’ the statement said. According to Iran’s foreign minister, this enrichment is needed for ‘peaceful, medicinal and humanitarian uses.’ The three countries urged Tehran to stop the violations and return to Vienna’s negotiating table where the original signatories to the deal have been working for months to mediate indirect talks between Iran and the USA.
The election of Ebrahim Raisi, sanctioned by America for his involvement in mass executions of thousands of political prisoners in 1988, became more of a coronation after his strongest competitors found themselves disqualified from running. That sparked calls for a boycott, and many stayed home. 28.9 million voted out of 59 million eligible voters, and 3.7 million voided their ballots. The low turnout and voided ballots suggest unhappiness with the tightly-controlled election, as activists criticised Raisi's ascension. Those casting ballots received stamps on their birth certificates. Not having a stamp could affect their ability to apply for jobs and scholarships, or to hold onto their positions in the government or the security forces. Iran accused Washington of claiming that last week’s election was neither free nor fair. Amnesty International wants Raisi investigated for crimes against humanity, murder, enforced disappearance and torture. See
The outcome of Iran’s presidential election on Friday could reshape the country’s political balance of power – and Tehran’s relations with its allies and rivals.
Conservative candidate Ebrahim Raisi is widely seen as the frontrunner to succeed Hassan Rouhani, the reformist president whose second term is ending. Two low-profile reformist candidates are also vying for Iran’s highest political office.
A win for Raisi, or any of the other conservative candidates, would signal a break from the reform agenda headed by Rouhani and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif since 2013.
Raisi was quoted in local media as saying, “I have come as an independent to the stage to make changes in the executive management of the country and to fight poverty, corruption, humiliation and discrimination.” Yet under his guidance as judiciary chief, more than 620 executions have taken place, the majority originating in unfair trials and minority groups.
That, in turn, could have significant consequences for countries keen to engage Tehran on a range of issues, including the landmark 2015 nuclear agreement, a series of regional conflicts and the detention of dual-nationals.
The Christian church continues to operate with incredible courage at this time, whilst facing ongoing persecution, threats and violence.
Pray: with thanks for the witness of Christians in Iran, their courage and perseverance. Pray that they will know heavenly love and protection.
New satellite images show vehicles, a fresh access road and excavation at an Iranian nuclear site that was covered up in March. This raised alarms as the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) met in Vienna. The IAEA seeks to promote the safe, secure and peaceful use of nuclear technologies. During a crucial board meeting, the US accused Iran of violating the very nuclear deal that US negotiators are trying to reinstate. ‘Since this board last met, Iran has also exceeded constraints by enriching uranium to 60% U-235,’ the delegation said. The head of the UN nuclear watchdog issued a similar warning. ‘My expectations about this process, of course, were not met,’ the IAEA director said. ‘We have a country that has a very developed and ambitious nuclear programme, which is enriching uranium at very high levels, very close to weapons-grade.’
Last week you prayed for the UK to settle the debt they owe to Iran, so that Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe can finally be released from prison. Please keep praying. This week the UK and Iran are in discussions over the £400m that the UK owes for failing to deliver tanks Iran bought in the 1970s. Nazanin believes she has been imprisoned as leverage for the debt. Boris Johnson said ministers were doing ‘everything we can to look after her interests and all the very difficult dual national cases we have in Tehran’. On 1 May Iranian state TV suggested the UK had paid the debt - but the Government said nothing had changed.
Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe has been sentenced to a further year in prison and a one-year travel ban after being found guilty of joining a London protest twelve years ago and speaking to the BBC Persian service. Her husband said she has not been taken to prison yet; she plans to appeal against the sentence. Mr Ratcliffe said, ‘The threat is there, and it is bigger than we were fearing. I think the worst case got a bit closer.’ He maintains that his wife was imprisoned as leverage for a debt owed by the UK over its failure to deliver tanks to Iran in 1979; also, her case may be caught up with the negotiations over limiting Iran's nuclear material enrichment. Her sentence may indicate that the Iranian regime is unhappy with the negotiations taking place in Vienna. Things could get worse for Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe and other jailed dual nationals.