News & Publications

July 12, 2023

U.S. Intelligence Affirms Iran not Developing Nuclear Weapons; Indonesian Coast Guard Seizes Iranian Tanker Amid Rising Tensions; Iranian Rapper Toomaj Salehi Sentenced to Prison; Armed Attack on the Zahedan 16 Police Station; and Ahmadreza Ahmadi – renowned Iranian poet, writer, and painter – passes away

Week of July 10, 2023 | Iran Unfiltered is a digest tracking Iranian politics & society by the National Iranian American Council 

Iran is not Developing Nuclear Weapons, According to a U.S. Intelligence Assessment

A recent U.S. intelligence assessment indicates that the Islamic Republic is not actively seeking nuclear weapons at present. Nonetheless, the report indicates that Iran has significantly increased its efforts in areas that could potentially lead to the production of such weapons.

A report released on Monday by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence in the United States provides insight into Iran’s nuclear ambitions. Although the Islamic Republic has been steadily advancing its nuclear capabilities since 2019, when it ceased compliance with the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action in retaliation for the U.S. withdrawal, the report states “Iran is not currently undertaking the key nuclear weapons-development activities that would be necessary to produce a testable nuclear device.” However, it indicates that – particularly since the assassination of Iranian nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh in 2020 – Iran has “undertaken research and development activities that would bring it closer to producing the fissile material needed for completing a nuclear device following a decision to do so.”

The report continues to align with recent intelligence assessments regarding Iran’s nuclear program. While Iran has significant nuclear capabilities that continue to advance, Iran does not appear to have made a political decision to pursue a nuclear weapon. Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei stated a month ago that an agreement on Iran’s nuclear program would be acceptable so long as it preserves the nation’s nuclear infrastructure. He also declared “Based on our Islamic principles, we do not intend to develop weapons. If we had chosen to do so, they wouldn’t have been able to stop us, as they have been unable to stop our nuclear advancements thus far.”

Additionally, the report indicates that Iran is violating the JCPOA in terms of uranium enrichment, increasing both the volume and concentration of its enriched uranium, in violation of the agreement’s provisions. The report highlights the apparent threat posed by Iran’s missile program, indicating that Iran has worked on “improving the accuracy, lethality, and reliability of its missiles.”

In recent weeks, various parties speculated that the U.S. and Iran could reach an agreement to deescalate tensions, including on Iran’s nuclear program. However, nothing concrete has surfaced as tensions continue to flare, including in the Persian Gulf where the U.S. Navy has responded to distress signals from oil tankers harried by Iranian naval boats.

Indonesian Coast Guard Seizes Iranian Tanker Amid Rising Gulf Tensions and Ongoing US-Iran Standoff

According to Reuters, the Indonesian Coast Guard has declared the seizure of an Iranian flagged oil tanker within Indonesian waters. The Arman 114 oil tanker is suspected of transporting crude oil illicitly. The Coast Guard disclosed in an official statement that the Arman 114 was carrying over 272,000 tons of light crude oil, which was intercepted during an unauthorized transfer to a vessel under the flag of Cameroon.

The Indonesian Coast Guard reported that the Iranian tanker was running a false location on its transponder tracking device and was not flying a flag. Other Iranian supertankers have been apprehended in Indonesian waters under similar circumstances, after the vessel’s tracking device had been turned off. Oil tankers from Iran often turn off tracking devices to conceal their navigation routes in order to hide the origin of its cargo in order to evade U.S. sanctions.

Formerly operating under the Panamanian flag as Adrian Darya 1 and Grace 1, the Arman 114 super-tanker is now sailing under the Iranian flag and has been subjected to a U.S. sanctions designation. British marines detained the Adrian Darya 1 in Gibraltar in 2018 on suspicion of delivering crude oil to Syria. A court order ultimately freed the vessel, and the cargo was then transported to Tartus. 

On July 5, the US Navy claimed it thwarted an Iranian attempt to seize two commercial oil tankers in the Sea of Oman through its intervention. The American energy giant Chevron has reported one of the incidents involving the Richmond oil tanker, whose crew’s safety was confirmed. According to Timothy Hawkins, a spokesman for the US 5th Fleet, the Iranian ship shot at the tanker during its second attempt to seize it. Separately, on July 6, the Bahrain-based US Navy’s Fifth Fleet reported that Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) had captured a merchant ship in the Persian Gulf and cited smuggling as the cause for the capture. 

Western Powers Confront Iran’s Missile Program and Russian Relations: An Examination of JCPOA Compliance and Resolution 2231’s Future

During a meeting of the UN Security Council last Thursday, July 6, the United States, Britain, and France criticized the Islamic Republic’s missile program and its alleged armament of Russia, highlighting the use of Iranian drones in the ongoing Ukrainian conflict. The Western powers met to discuss the implementation of UN Resolution 2231, where they expressed their concern that Iran’s current activities contradict the stipulations of the resolution. They urged the UN Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, to take action.

In an interesting development, the three European nations who are signatories to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) have called for the extension of European missile sanctions against Iran after they had been called to be lifted under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action. In announcing that Europe would retain sanctions on Iran’s ballistic missile program, the three European nations stated: “Iran has breached its nuclear commitments under the JCPOA for over four years, and its nuclear program has escalated to alarming levels, posing significant risks to international peace and security.” Furthermore, they argued that Iran’s nuclear program lacks a plausible civilian justification. Reuters reported that the European nations made their decision due to Iran’s drone partnership with Russia, fears about possible missile exports for use in the Ukraine war, and Iran’s violation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, which denied them access to the agreement’s benefits.

According to US Representative Robert Wood, “Russia’s acquisition of hundreds of Iranian drones and subsequent domestic production constitutes a flagrant violation of Resolution 2231; we must not refrain from denouncing this disruptive and dangerous behavior. After the recent test of a medium-range missile by Iran, Wood underscored the Biden administration’s determination to prevent Iran from acquiring sensitive missile technology and exporting it.

British and French ambassadors both condemned Iran for violating the terms of the JCPOA, echoing similar sentiments. Moreover, British Ambassador Barbara Woodward noted that Iran has 21 times more enriched uranium than the JCPOA threshold, and that “2,500 advanced centrifuges are capable of producing nuclear weapons.”

Despite these allegations, Russian Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia strongly rebuked them, accusing Western nations of seeking to coerce Iran by threatening more sanctions. In response to the accusations, Iran’s UN Ambassador, Amir Saeed Irvani, expressed disapproval and asserted that several Council members, particularly America, have chosen to ignore the facts and sidestep the fundamental issues surrounding the JCPOA. “Their hypocrisy lies in blaming and accusing Iran, while disregarding their own failure to meet their obligations.”

Iranian Rapper Toomaj Salehi Sentenced to Prison

Toomaj Salehi, a rapper whose case has received international concern and attention since Iran’s 2022 protests, has been sentenced to six years and three months in prison for “corruption on earth.” The news was announced by his attorney, Roza Etamad Ansari. However, Salehi was acquitted of the charges of “insulting the founder of the revolution and the leader” as well as “connection with hostile governments.”

Etemadi Ansari expressed her satisfaction with this decision and announced her client will be transferred to the general ward of the prison, after previously being held in solitary confinement. As a consequence of the verdict, only the maximum penalty of 6 years and 3 months, including the period of detention served thus far, will be applied. Additionally, Salehi will be subject to additional restrictions. He will not be permitted to leave the country for two years following release from prison, and his passport will be revoked. 

On Sunday, July 2, Salehi was tried for the second time behind closed doors. The first trial had been held on June 18 in the first branch of the Isfahan Islamic Revolution Court. Following nearly two months of living in hiding, Salehi, 32, was arrested during nationwide protests in Iran on October 30 of last year at Gerdbisheh village in Chaharmahal and Bakhtiari province. According to reports, his family and friends were concerned about his injuries and bloodied face following his arrest. Subsequently, Salehi’s forced confessions were aired, where he expressed regret for his actions.

Likewise, for the next two years, Salehi is prohibited from engaging in any music-related activity, including preparation, production, and singing works. Salehi was required by the court to participate in behavior management and knowledge skills courses for two years, which will be organized by the Vice Social and Crime Prevention Department of the Isfahan Prosecutor’s Office. 

This is not the first time Salehi has faced legal pressure from the state. He was initially arrested in September 2022 after releasing the song “Buy a Mouse Hole,” but was released on bail after 10 days. Salehi has received a great deal of support both inside Iran and internationally since his arrest. Recently, the Florence City Council in Italy designated him as an honorary citizen. On Monday, July 3, Shabnam Khosravi, Toomaj’s aunt, was presented with the title of honorary citizen by the Florence City Council.

Salehi’s sentences, which appear to be retaliation for his remarks and support of protesters, are in stark violation of Iran’s international rights obligations to allow for freedom of expression. 

Armed Attack on the Zahedan 16 Police Station Resulted in the Deaths of Two Policemen and Four Attackers

In a distressing incident reported by Iranian news agencies on July 8, Zahedan 16 police station was attacked by armed individuals. Several hours later, armed assailants clashed with police forces stationed at the scene, resulting in the death of two police officers and four attackers.

Jaish al-Adl – a Salafist militant group – has claimed responsibility for the attack on Zahedan 16 police station in a statement published on the Adl Network website and Twitter account. Jaish al-Adl released the following statement: “We hereby inform the public that Rashid’s children from the strategic battalion of Fadiyan Adl Elahi successfully targeted the Zahedan 16 police station, which was a major catalyst for the tragic incident known as Bloody Friday in Zahedan.”

Molavi Abdulhamid, the imam of Zahedan Sunni Fridays, issued a statement following the armed attack on Zahedan’s 16 police station. In his statement, he urged the people of Zahedan to remain calm and expressed his lack of knowledge regarding the nature and perpetrators of the attack. He stated, “I condemn violence, armed attacks, and any actions that undermine security, even though I am unaware of the full extent or details of this incident, as well as the identity of those responsible.”

A clash occurred at the same police station on September 30 of the previous year between protesters and law enforcement officers. Following Friday prayers, demonstrators converged on the 16th police station in Zahedan, resulting in the “Bloody Friday of Zahedan.” Security personnel opened fire on the protesters, resulting in the death of over 100 individuals, including children.

Known also as the Army of Justice and Equality, Jaish al-Adl is primarily based in the province of Sistan and Baluchistan in Iran. In addition to engaging in armed conflicts with Iran’s military and security forces on multiple occasions, the group has claimed responsibility for numerous armed attacks near the country’s southern border. Founded by Rasaluddin Farooqi, a Rask native, Jaish al-Adl emerged following the dissolution of Jundallah, led by Abdul Malik Righi.

Among the three known branches of the organization are the “Abdul Malik Molazadeh” group, the “Sheikh Ziaee” group, and the “Molawi Nematullah Tawhidi” group. Moreover, the “Zubair ٍEsmail Zahi” information branch alongside these three military units. Zubair ٍEsmail Zahi – who died during a military operation – works Zubair Smail Zahi, was the commander of the “Nematullah Tawhidi” group. 

Several violent attacks have been committed by Jaish al-Adl, including claiming responsibility for the killing of numerous Islamic Revolutionary Guardsmen in September 2012. Moreover, in October 2012, ten members of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps were claimed to have died as a result of their actions.

Members of the group launched a surprise attack on a border patrol in the Saravan region on October 25, 2013, resulting in the deaths of 14 Iranian border police officers and the injury of seven others. After crossing the Iranian-Pakistan border, the attackers sought refuge in Pakistan, stating in an official blog post that they were defending Baloch youth and opposing Iranian intervention.

After the Saravan incident, Iran’s judiciary executed 16 members of Jaish al-Adl in an unprecedented move. According to Sardar Hossein Zulfiqari, the Naja Border Police chief, these convicts were originally scheduled to be executed at a later date. However, the judicial system temporarily suspended the sentence to allow them to undergo Islamic treatment. The officials determined that the individuals had abandoned any possibility of reform and had pursued alternative objectives, resulting in the decision to proceed with the executions.

In the winter of 2014, Jaish al-Adl abducted five Iranian border guards near the Iranian-Pakistan border. A photograph of the hostages was later released, and reports later surfaced regarding the killing of one guard. Jaish al-Adl issued threats against the remaining four guards. It called for the release of 50 imprisoned members, 200 Sunni citizens detained in Iran, and 50 Sunni women allegedly held captive in Syria. Additionally, on April 6, 2015, Jaish al-Adl members infiltrated Iranian territory from within Pakistani territory in the Nagor region, killing eight Iranian border guards before retreating to Pakistan.

The Mirjaveh border became the site of further violence when members of the group killed ten Iranian border guards from the Chahandu Group on Wednesday, April 26, 2017. The guards were stationed at an outpost approximately 100 miles from Mirjaveh. Three officers and six soldiers were patrolling the post at 8:00 p.m. when long-range weapons were used, resulting in the death of three officers and six soldiers. Jaish al-Adl members once again infiltrated the Lolkdan area in Rig Malik, 50 kilometers from Mirjaveh city in Sistan and Baluchistan province on Tuesday, October 16, 2018. The attack resulted in the death of fourteen armed border guards before the assailants returned to Pakistan.

A suicide attack was carried out by the group on February 13, 2019, against a bus carrying troops from the Quds base of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps on the Khash-Zahedan road. According to IRGC statistics, 27 individuals were killed in the attack, and 13 others sustained injuries. 

Speaker of the Parliament: 32 Entities Receiving Funds for Enforcing Hijab

According to the Speaker of Parliament, Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf expressed criticism of various government institutions involved in “hijab-related activities.” Iran has currently “32 entities” responsible for enforcing hijab regulations and receiving funds for their activities, according to a report issued by the parliament’s cultural commission.

Ghalibaf, who advocates mandatory hijab, has expressed disappointment in these institutions, stating that they have “failed” in their duties. Over 500 lives were lost as a result of nationwide protests that took place in Iran over consecutive months last year, protesting both mandatory hijab and the government as a whole. Despite not specifically referring to the protests, Ghalibaf urged caution in avoiding further polarization. He asserted that people should not be pitted against each other since this aligns with the interests of the nation’s enemies.

Authorities in the Islamic Republic, particularly Ayatollah Khamenei, have never acknowledged the spontaneous and grassroots nature of the protests, and instead continue to claim that the demonstrations are the result of a foreign conspiracy. Despite this, opposition to the mandatory hijab persists through peaceful acts of disobedience, with women regularly eschewing head coverings in public areas. Several government officials have expressed dissatisfaction with this phenomenon and have called for increased police measures against women who refuse to wear hijab.

In particular, the first deputy of the Judiciary Mohammad Mossadegh stated that, “A person standing in front of a police booth on the street should not deliberately remove their headscarf and laugh.” As a result, the police cannot maintain order and security in such situations, and their dignity should never be compromised. Mossadegh stated in the report that the judicial system would decisively deal with individuals who attempted to undermine chastity and hijab.

An emergency bill aimed at promoting the culture of “chastity and hijab” and supporting social health was reviewed last month by representatives of the Islamic Council. Eight months after the start of the “Women, Life, Freedom” protest movement, this bill drafted by the judiciary is being presented to parliament with the approval of the government of President Ebrahim Raisi. It aims to further intensify the pressure and enforce hijab regulations, including excluding women from government services and imposing harsh punishments on prominent individuals. The bill further proposes measures that will increase the pressure on women to comply with the government’s prescribed attire, as well as encourage the complicity of other citizens in enforcing it, including the deprivation of internet access, the closure of businesses, and the confiscation of cars.

In recent weeks, hundreds of cafes, restaurants, shops, bookstores, malls, and numerous cars have been seized as a result of these restrictions. As the Islamic Penal Code and the Law of Protection of those who command good and forbid evil already address cases relating to mandatory hijab, the government is seeking ways to intensify enforcement without further mobilizing opposition. During a conference titled “Politicizing Hijab and Covering in Iran Today: Challenges and Strategies,” Hassan Banianian, former head of the Artistic Department of the Islamic Propaganda Organization and member of the Supreme Council of the Cultural Revolution, referred to a statistic that indicates that only 15% of female students educated in the Islamic Republic’s educational system adhere to hijab requirements. Additionally, some 20% of men oppose their wives’ veiling, indicating a large degree of complicity with the mandate.

Banianian called for a “shift in mentality against not wearing the hijab” and attributed the failure of the entire system to the Islamic Republic’s policies. In recent years, the act of removing the headscarf has gained some popularity. However, in the last eight months, Iranian women and girls have increasingly flouted the mandatory hijab law, making what is known as bijab (“no hijab”) the new norm in public spaces.

According to the proposed hijab bill, no one has the right to insult or use force against women who do not wear the hijab. Iran has a long history of violent treatment of women who do not adhere to prescribed clothing by police officers, Basij, and Hezbollah militias. After Mahsa Amini was killed in the custody of the Ershad patrol, public outrage soared nationwide, resulting in widespread condemnation.

The Tehran Municipality’s Attempt to Seal the “House of Human Sciences Thinkers”

Tehran Municipality officials visited the “House of Human Sciences Thinkers” on Wednesday, July 4, and evacuated and sealed the building. On Vesho Street in Tehran, the House of Human Sciences Thinkers has been operating since the early 2010s, serving as a meeting place for students, professors, intellectuals, and enthusiasts of thought and science, particularly in the human sciences.

Shargh Network reported that the deputy of cultural and social affairs, along with the Director-General of Cultural and Social Studies and several municipal officials, changed the locks and removed the House of Human Sciences Thinkers’ staff. Even though Tehran City Council opposed this action, municipal authorities insisted on evacuating the building and taking control of it. The managers of the House of Human Sciences Thinkers claim that they have not received any official orders from the municipality and were only informed the night before that they “want” the building.

The Tehran Municipality insists that the House of Human Sciences Thinkers should reflect its values. The municipality, claiming that the management of the House of Human Sciences Thinkers is incompatible with “revolutionary and ideological forces,” has called for a change in the management of this institution.

According to reports, Alireza Zakani, the mayor of Tehran, has ordered the municipal officials to remain inside the House of Human Sciences Thinkers after more than three days of tension. Additionally, the Deputy of the House of Human Sciences Thinkers said that some of the managers of this institution had been compelled to stay in the building due to the unlawful presence of the Director-General of the Tehran Municipality’s Office for Cultural and Social Studies. 

According to a statement released by the House of Human Sciences Thinkers on Saturday, July 8, “this building does not belong to the municipality.” Despite the temporary order and the presence of security forces at the House of Human Sciences Thinkers, the municipal authorities have not implemented their evacuation order in full.

The Tehran Municipality has been present at the House of Human Sciences Thinkers since Wednesday, July 5. It has exerted pressure on the institution’s management and is attempting to evacuate it. Iranian news agencies have reported that police and municipal officials have been continuously present to seal the premises and change the locks. It has been announced that some of the managers of the House of Human Sciences Thinkers, along with cultural and artistic individuals, will remain inside the building in order to prevent its closure, and they have expressed their readiness to remain there day and night if their presence prevents the municipality from making a decision.

The Tehran municipality denies that the building has been sealed or damaged, and states that the municipality intends to maintain the House of Human Sciences Thinkers as a place where diverse viewpoints, perspectives, and thoughts can be shared within the Islamic Revolution.

The Deputy Mayor of Tehran, Amin Tokallizadeh, categorizes the reports concerning the evacuation, sealing, and demolition of the House of Human Sciences Thinkers as complete lies, calling them an example of “creating tension” around this scientific institution. As Tokallizadeh stated to Iranian news agencies, “The intellectual movement of the House of Human Sciences Thinkers is often responsible for creating intellectual tensions and crises throughout the country, and it requires supervisory control.”

The Fars News Agency published an editorial titled, “House of Human Sciences Thinkers or Gathering Place for Reformists?” According to the editorial, “The 5,000-square-meter building known as the “House of Human Sciences Thinkers” has recently become a gathering place for reformists. “Previously, prominent figures of the Iranian government, in contrast to the House of Human Sciences Thinkers, have expressed objections and raised suspicions about its existence, expressing concerns about the activities of these closed and secular groups when they do not work toward the goals and ideals of the Islamic Revolution.

As a result of their association with Western intellectual principles and sciences, which are perceived as contradictory to religious principles, social sciences have been subject to criticism in Iran since the beginning of the Islamic Revolution. The Supreme Leader of the Islamic Republic, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, has been at the forefront of this confrontation by promoting the concept of Islamic humanities.

Ahmadreza Ahmadi – Renowned Iranian Poet, Writer, and Painter – Passes Away

Renowned Iranian poet, writer and painter Ahmadreza Ahmadi passed away July 11 at the age of 83 following a lengthy illness. He was an artist with diverse interests, including poetry, music, writing, editing, literature and cinema. Known as one of the pioneers of surrealism in children’s literature and the founder of the new wave of poetry, Ahmadi has been honored by the Iranian Artists Center. As well as advocating for peace, coexistence, tolerance, and cooperation, one of his notable works, “Journey at Night,” addresses social issues.

Ahmadi received numerous accolades throughout his lifetime, including the prestigious National Cultural and Artistic Award (Bijan Jalali) in 2006 for his poetry collection. His poetry has been translated into a number of languages, including Arabic, Armenian, English, French, German, Italian, Japanese, and Korean. “From the Rain That Fell Late,” “Fruits Have a Repeated Taste,” “A Thousand Acacias Were Nothing in Your Eyes,” “I Will Tell You One Day,” and “There Are a Thousand Steps Left to the Sea” are a few of his notable works.

In addition to his literary pursuits, Ahmadi demonstrated his artistic talent through his paintings. His first solo exhibition, titled “A Thousand Acacias Were Nothing in Your Eyes,” was held at Kama Gallery in May 2018. Additionally, he has participated in various group exhibitions, including “97+” at Efarand Gallery in March 2019, “Two of Thousands” at Elahi Gallery in October 2019, “Golgasht” in November to December 2019, and “Collector 5” at Artibishan Gallery in February 2020. Moreover, in September 2022, he held his second solo exhibition at O Gallery, titled “A Stain of Omar Was on the Wall.”

Two Defendants in Shahcheragh Attack Case Executed

The Islamic Republic of Iran’s news agency, IRNA, has confirmed that two individuals involved in the Shahcheragh attack case in Shiraz have been executed. According to local time, the execution occurred on Saturday, July 8, at sunrise local time. As per the ruling of the court, Mohammad Ramez Rashidi and Naeem Hashem Qatali were publicly hanged.

The Chief Justice of Fars Province, Kazem Mousavi, had previously stated on July 6, the sentence would be carried out as soon as all legal procedures were completed. Mohammad Ramez Rashidi and Naeem Hashem Qatali were sentenced to death by the Chief Justice of Fars Province on March 18. Three other defendants were sentenced to prison terms ranging from five to 25 years.

As part of a tweet shared in May, Saeed Afkari, the brother of Navid Afkari, identified Rashidi and Qatali as Afghan immigrants detained in Iran. In the tweet, it was stated that the two individuals were awaiting execution in cells adjacent to Saeed’s brother, Vahid Afkari. Activists for human rights have expressed concern that these two defendants may have been tortured into confessing.

The attack on Shahcheragh occurred on October 26 of the previous year, resulting in the death of 13 people and the injury of 20 others. The Iranian government classified the incident as a terrorist act, with the Islamist group ISIS claiming responsibility. There is agreement among Iranian authorities that the main perpetrator behind the Shahcheragh attack was eliminated during the incident. According to the Isna news agency, the individual operated under a number of aliases, including Abu Ayesha, Hamed Badakhshan, and Soban. According to the IRNA news agency, Rashidi and Qatali were executed “before sunrise on July 8, 2023, in the street near Shahcheragh.”

Supreme Court Confirms Death Sentence for Protester Arrested in 2019 Nationwide Protests

Abbas Daris, a participant in the nationwide protests of 2019 has had his death sentence upheld by the Supreme Court, according to the defendant’s lawyer. Currently confined in Sepidar prison in Ahvaz, Daris was arrested following the killing of Nizar Mahshahr in Khuzestan, which was one of the most bloody events during the protests.

Lawyer Farishte Tabanian tweeted on Tuesday that the Supreme Court had confirmed his client’s death sentence for “Moharebeh,” or enmity against God. Tabanian added that the case contained “flaws” that the Supreme Court failed to address. Tabanian stated that she was not directly informed of the confirmation of the sentence, but rather through a notification from the first branch of the Mahshahr Revolutionary Court.

In October 2022, Daris’ death sentence was handed down by the Mahshahr Revolutionary Court. At the time, it was reported that Daris’ brother, Mohsen, had been acquitted. The Daris brothers lived in Chamran (Jarhari) township in Mahshahr city and were arrested in December 2019. One of the violent incidents during the protests occurred in Nizar Mahshahr.

At around 9:30 a.m. on Monday, November 18, 2019, security officers arrived at the square where protesters were gathering, according to an eyewitness interviewed by the BBC at the time. A witness reported that an officer was shot from a reed box near the square and that security forces responded by firing on the protesters. A witness stated that the demonstrators, who were unarmed and blocking the road, fled towards Nizar, but were also shot by security officers.

As a result of the officers’ firing in Nizar, nearly 20 people were killed. The two brothers were initially charged with deliberately killing a member of the Special Forces, Reza Sayadi, as well as engaging in combat and using a weapon. Mahshahr Revolutionary Court’s verdict stated that the sentence was based on Abbas Daris’ confessions. During the Mahshahr protests, Daris claimed he was unable to determine whether his shot had struck anyone due to the distance and chaos, but he observed people in black clothing falling on the other side.

It was later argued by his lawyer that these confessions were obtained under duress at the Ministry of Information, and Daris denied the accusations in court, stating that he neither fired a weapon nor killed anyone during the events in Nizar Mahshahr. Born in 1973, Abbas Daris is the father of three children. Originally from Abadan, he later moved to Chamran in Bandar Mahshahr during the war.

A sudden and unannounced increase in gasoline prices initially prompted the 2019 protests, which quickly spread to over “five hundred points” across Iran, targeting the entire state authority and important symbols. In an interview with Khabar Online news agency, Mohammed Reza Bahnar, Secretary General of the Islamic Society of Engineers, stated that “people were not only unsatisfied with gasoline, but with everything that had preceded it.”

Authorities in the Islamic Republic responded to the protests with a massive crackdown and a nationwide internet blackout. Amnesty International confirmed and documented the killing of 321 individuals by security forces during those protests. Among those killed were 10 women and 22 children under the age of 18 (including 21 boys aged 12 to 17 and one girl aged 8 to 10). The majority of the victims, according to Amnesty International, were in their twenties or thirties. Unofficial statistics indicate that there may have been a much larger death toll.

In a video shared on social media, Abbas Daris’ mother appealed for the suspension of her son’s death sentence. She stated that her son is “innocent” and pleaded with the Islamic Republic authorities not to execute him unjustly. He is the sole guardian of his three children since he has already lost his wife. Daris’ mother appealed for assistance in preventing her son’s execution in the video.

Iran’s Objections to Russia and the Persian Gulf Cooperation Council’s Joint Statement

Iran has objected to a joint statement issued by the foreign ministers of Russia and the six nations making up the Persian Gulf Cooperation Council (PGCC) following their meeting in Moscow. The statement expressed support for peaceful efforts in resolving the issue of the three islands—Great Tunb, Little Tunb, and Abu Musa—highlighting the United Arab Emirates’ initiative for a peaceful resolution through bilateral negotiations or the International Court of Justice. As a consequence, compliance with international law and the United Nations Charter was stressed.

As a result, Iran’s Foreign Ministry rejected this particular aspect of the statement. It was stated by Nasser Kanani, spokesperson for the Iranian Foreign Ministry, that these islands belong to Iran permanently, and issuing such statements violates Iran’s friendly relations with its neighbors.

The joint statement was signed by the foreign ministers of Qatar, Oman, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, and Bahrain, as well as Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, who hosted the meeting. Following a seven-year hiatus, Iran has recently resumed relations with Saudi Arabia following mediation by China. Prior to that, Iran had elevated its relations with the UAE from ambassadorial to diplomatic levels. The joint statement by Russia and the PGCC welcomed the renewed political and economic ties between Iran and Saudi Arabia. As a consequence of the sanctions imposed by the United States and Western governments, Iranian officials view Russia as a partner.

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