Iran News in Brief – April 23, 2024



New Iran Sanctions Should Include Revolutionary Guards – Belgian FM

PARIS: New European Union sanctions against Iran in response to the country’s recent attack on Israel should include the Revolutionary Guards, Belgium’s Foreign Minister Hadja Lahbib said on Monday.

Speaking to journalists ahead of EU ministers’ meeting in Luxembourg, Lahbib said that so far there was no consensus on what legal basis the Guards could be added to a bloc-wide list of entities seen as terrorist organizations.

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Sanctioning Iranian Cyber Actors

The United States is today imposing sanctions on two Iranian companies and four individuals involved in malicious cyber activity on behalf of, directly or indirectly, the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Cyber Electronic Command (IRGC-CEC), a U.S.-designated entity.  These actors have targeted more than a dozen U.S. companies and government entities through cyber operations. The Department of the Treasury is taking this action in conjunction with the unsealing of an indictment against the four individuals by the Department of Justice for their roles in cyber activity targeting U.S. entities.

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UPDATE: 12:30 PM

It’s Up to The Iranian People to Topple The Regime, Europe Must Choose Sides

LUXEMBOURG – In Kirchberg on Monday, amidst a gathering of European ministers, the Iranian resistance orchestrated a demonstration. Nearly a hundred Iranians convened, brandishing large banners denouncing the oppressive Ayatollah regime. Adorned with Iran’s national colors and emblazoned with a lion wielding a sword, they fervently urged Europe to take a stand.

Addressing the gathering, Afchine Alavi, a representative of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) spearheading the protest, implored European ministers and nations: “What’s keeping you from designating the Revolutionary Guards, arguably the most perilous entity globally, as a terrorist organization?” Alavi emphasized the urgency of this move, stating, “Sanctioning a handful of generals won’t suffice.”

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Exiled Opposition Members Call for A Ban on The “Revolutionary Guards”

Last Friday, the NGO “The International Committee ‘In Search of Justice'” (ISJ) issued an open letter to the European Commission, reiterating its call for the designation of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards as a terrorist organization. Founded by Spanish politician Alejo Vidal-Quadras, ISJ aims to bolster the Iranian opposition against the mullahs’ regime.

In Luxembourg, the ISJ’s plea was echoed by a protest led by the National Council of Resistance in Iran (NCRI), closely aligned with the Iranian People’s Mujahideen. Although active across Europe, the NCRI represents only a faction of the opposition both within and outside Iran. Independent Iranians also participate in their demonstrations. Alongside their demand for action against the Revolutionary Guards, they’ve long protested the EU’s policy of appeasement—a strategy aimed at averting escalation through conciliation and restraint.

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U.S. State Department Report: Human Rights Situation in Iran Worsened in 2023

The U.S. State Department released its annual report on the human rights situation in various countries for the year 2023 on Tuesday, April 22.

Regarding the human rights situation in Iran, the report highlights that the severe restrictions imposed by the clerical regime in various areas worsened throughout the year.

Discrimination against women, coupled with pressure for compulsory hijab, is cited as one of the indicators of the deteriorating human rights situation in Iran in the report.

This year’s report from the U.S. State Department also states that the number of executions in Iran increased by 37% compared to 2022, reaching 798 cases in 2023.

The significant human rights violations in this report include arbitrary or unlawful killings by the regime and its agents. Citing multiple credible reports, the report states that the Iranian regime and its agents committed arbitrary killings throughout 2023, including executions for crimes that do not meet the “most serious crimes” international legal standards, as well as executions for crimes committed by juvenile offenders, and sentences of execution following trials conducted without fair due process.


Mass Poverty and Deprivation, The Legacy of The Mullahs’ Regime In Iran

Selfless struggles and the sacrifices of thousands of informed young people, revolutionary intellectuals, and justice-seeking individuals in Iran led to the 1979 revolution that ousted the Shah dictatorship. However, Ruhollah Khomeini the opportunistic mullahs, and their self-serving agents uprooted the seeds of freedom and hope for a better tomorrow in Iran. This uprooting, on one hand, came at the cost of the lives of thousands of young girls and free women who cried out for freedom in prisons, torture chambers, and in front of firing squads. On the other hand, it resulted in the impoverishment and oppression of millions of our compatriots. Until today, both sides of this epic tragedy continue to unfold across Iran. The usurpation of the rights of the Iranian people after the rule of the mullahs had such devastating consequences that it still astonishes and bewilders people around the world. How is it possible that in a land where its population enjoys multiple natural and underground resources, millions of its people live in poverty and destitution, with their future becoming worse than its present?

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Fatemeh Ziaii Azad, 67, Rearrested And Jailed In Evin Prison

The political prisoner Fatemeh Ziaii Azad, who was on medical leave, was arrested again on Sunday, April 21, 2024, and transferred to Evin prison. The PMOI political prisoner Fatemeh Ziaii Azad is 67 years old and the mother of 2 members of the Iranian opposition People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI). She has been arrested and imprisoned many times since the 1980s. Until September 2022, when Fatemeh Ziaii Azad was rearrested, she had spent 10 years and two months behind bars.

Fatemeh Ziaii Azad (Houri) suffers from Multiple Sclerosis MS and has been deprived of access to medical treatment during her years in prison. On September 10, 2022, she was sentenced to six and a half years in prison on charges of “assembly and collusion against the state” and “having contact with the PMOI.”

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“People’s Pockets Have Been Pierced”: Iranian Officials Sound Alarm on Growing Public Frustration

Jafarzadeh Imenabadi, a former member of Iran’s regime parliament, spoke candidly on Sunday during a conversation with the state-run daily Khabar Online, admitting to the widespread poverty and poor quality of life among the populace. He warned the regime about the growing discontent among the nation, highlighting the explosive conditions within society.

In his speech, he addressed various hardships faced by the people: “People are encountering difficulties in accessing medical treatment, obtaining protein-rich food, and securing housing.”

“The skyrocketing prices of goods, the fluctuating dollar exchange rate, and the soaring costs of medicines, protein-rich foods, clothing, and education are stark indicators of the worsening situation. Meat prices have surged to over 800 thousand tomans. People’s livelihoods are being devastated, not merely constrained.”

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Iran’s Drug Crisis: Executions and a Growing Problem

Human rights organizations have documented a surge in executions in Iran, with at least 19 prisoners put to death on drug-related charges between April 11th and 19th, 2024. These executions occurred in prisons across the country, including Urmia, Karaj, Mashhad, Ahvaz, Tabriz, Hamedan, Isfahan, and Zanjan.

On a single Sunday, media outlets reported the execution of at least nine prisoners in various cities. HAALVSH, a human rights website, documented the execution of five prisoners in Kerman prison and two in Chabahar prison, all on drug trafficking charges. The same day, news emerged of two more executions at Ghezel Hesar prison in Karaj. These individuals were sentenced in separate cases but faced the same fate.

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EU Agrees to Expand Sanctions on Iran’s Regime

Following a meeting of European Union foreign ministers in Luxembourg, the bloc’s foreign policy chief, Josep Borrell, announced an agreement in principle to expand sanctions on Iran. This comes in response to Tehran’s recent missile and drone attacks on Israel.

Borrell, speaking on April 22nd, explained that the new sanctions aim to strengthen existing restrictions on Iran’s drone and missile programs, including their potential transfer to Russia. He emphasized that the sanctions would go beyond Russia, targeting supplies of drones and missiles to Iranian proxy groups in the region as well.

While some EU members pushed for designating the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) a terrorist organization and imposing sanctions on it, Borrell did not address these requests.

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Iran on the Brink: Nuclear Threat Looms Large, German Outlet Says

A chilling prospect hangs over the Middle East: Iran’s potential possession of a nuclear bomb within weeks, according to a report in Bild. This terrifying outcome follows the recent Israeli counterattack and the subsequent uneasy calm.

Ulrich Schlie, security studies director at the University of Bonn, warns that Iran stands on the precipice of nuclear weapon capability, as reported by Bild. He estimates a timeframe of mere weeks for them to achieve this.

The possibility of Iran using nuclear weapons is heightened by their recent large-scale attack on Israel. Experts believe this assault served as a display of Iran’s “all options and capabilities,” including a potential nuclear strike or using the bomb as a deterrent against further Israeli action, according to Bild.

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Iran: 9 Prisoners Executed in One Day

The Iranian regime executed five prisoners in Kerman prison and two prisoners in Chabahar prison on April 21. At the same time, two other prisoners were executed in Ghezel Hesar prison in Karaj. These nine prisoners had been sentenced to death separately on charges related to drug trafficking.

Seven prisoners were sentenced to death for drug-related charges and were transferred to solitary confinement on April 19 for execution. They met with their families for the last time on April 20 in Kerman and Chabahar prisons and were executed on Sunday morning. In another case, the Iranian regime executed two prisoners in Ghezel Hesar prison in Karaj.

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Also, read Iran News in Brief – April 22, 2024

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