Iran: Young Activist Receives Lengthy Jail Sentence

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A LENGTHY prison sentence handed to a young student ­activist in Iran has raised doubts President Hassan Rowhani can deliver the political and social reforms that he promised on the campaign trail.

Maryam Shafipour has been jailed for seven years after refusing to abandon a campaign of peaceful protest. She is charged with “spreading propaganda against the system”.

Maryam Shafi’ Pour was arrested on 27 July 2013 after obeying a summons to appear before the Prosecutor’s Office at Evin Prison in Tehran.

After her arrest she spent over two months in solitary confinement, with no access to a lawyer.

On 2 March 2014, the Revolutionary Court of Tehran found her guilty of “spreading propaganda against the system”, “assembly and collusion against national security”, and “membership of the Advocacy Council for the Right to Education” which is not officially recognized by the Iranian authorities.

Judge Salvati, who sentenced Shafipour, is known by many Iranians as the Hanging Judge, or the judge of death.

He earned this title by sentencing more than a dozen protesters to death since the controversial 2009 election period when Mahmoud Ahmadinejad claimed to have obtained over 60% of the vote, and won another term as President.

Maryam Shafipour’s conviction is a chilling reminder of how little Iran’s human rights record has changed since 2009, when students were arrested in droves during post election unrest.

A relative of Shafipour told the opposition website Kaleme that the activist had been under pressure from her interrogators to confess and had been mistreated and tortured in jail.

Her sentence has been followed by further arrests in ­recent days, a development that activists fear marks a new strategy by Tehran: to stifle dissent at home while maintaining the co-operative image fostered by Mr Rowhani abroad.

His apparent stance has raised hopes of a deal to end the crisis over Iran’s ­nuclear program.

Rather than the mass purges that followed the disputed 2009 presidential election, reformists believe the judiciary will instead hand down occasional ruthless sentences like Ms Shafipour’s, to send a warning to others.

“You don’t know what your punishment might be, and that unpredictability ensures the survival of the regime,” one Tehran-based activist said.

The quiet crackdown has unsettled the legions of supporters who swept Mr Rowhani to power in last summer’s election.

“If Rowhani cannot deliver on those promises we will look at other options. He has four years to deliver and if he cannot implement change he will not be elected again,” said Farshad Gourbanpour, an activist for the President’s campaign team.

Such warnings from Mr Rowhani’s supporters barely six months into his four-year term underline the pressures on him from all sides.

Already fending off attacks by some regime hardliners, the President is also tasked with overseeing the nuclear talks, mending Tehran’s relationship with the West and rebuilding the shattered economy.

Sources close to the Rowhani camp insist his desire for reform is genuine, but say that he faces heavy resistance from conservatives.

Before his charm offensive at the UN in September, signalling Iran’s readiness to open nuclear negotiations, Mr Rowhani secu­red the release of 11 prominent political prisoners. Since then, however, prisoner releases have dried up.

One issue in particular hangs over the Rowhani administration: Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi, the leaders of the Green Movement during the 2009 election, have been held under house arrest for more than three years, and failure to secure their release would constitute a betrayal in the eyes of many supporters.

“For many supporters, the nuclear talks are not the priority. Releasing Mousavi and Karroubi is a key demand, we cannot just forget about it,” said Mr Gourbanpour.

Mr Rowhani also appears to be backing away from campaign promises to allow greater freedom of the press after dozens of reformist newspapers and websites were closed.

Two reformist newspapers have been closed in the months since the President took office and the Association of Iranian Journalists, which he pledged to reopen, remains banned.

Changes to act would allow Scott Morrison to ‘play God’

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*** Please note I will not publish any comments which are negative towards refugees nor enter into debates about whether or not it is legal to seek asylum by boat. This argument has been has ad nauseam and if you really must have it there’s plenty of other places you can do so ***

Another tactic being used by the government in the war against refugees.

Republished from the Sydney Morning Herald

Changes to a core migration act, which critics argue could allow Scott Morrison to “play God” and decide the fate of asylum seekers, have been investigated by a Senate committee.

Under current complementary protection visa requirements, people not defined as “refugees” – such as women who are fleeing from honour killings, genital female mutilation or torture victims – can be granted visas through the normal refugee processes.

Now, under the proposed changes Mr Morrison will have discretionary power to rule the fate of these asylum seekers.

The Greens party, academics and refugee advocates argue the changes will risk Australia’s compliance with international law, could harm vulnerable people, will remove standard legal processes and protections, and could create errors by introducing inefficient processing measures.

On Tuesday the Senate committee recommended the bill be passed, as long as administrative processes are put in place. But it still remains unlikely the bill will pass in the Senate.

Only five years ago, then Labor immigration minister Chris Evans likened the responsibility of the Migration Act to “playing God”, saying he had too much power and the workload was too immense. The act was subsequently changed 19 months ago.

In a submission to the inquiry, president of the Human Rights Commission, Gillian Triggs said the bill would increase the risk of Australia breaking its international obligations.

“We think there will be an increase in the risk that Australia will return people to their countries of origin despite the fact there is a real risk they will suffer irreparable harm, including torture or death, on their return,” Dr Triggs wrote in her submission.

Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young said the government had an “unhealthy obsession with power.”

“Without Complementary Protection, the Immigration Minister himself will decide who gets protection and who gets sent home with a single stroke of his pen,” Senator Hanson-Young said.

Meanwhile, Australia’s treatment of Sri Lankan asylum seekers was addressed on Tuesday night at the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva.

In a statement to the session, human rights lawyer Emily Howie from the The Human Rights Law Centre told the session that Australia’s efforts in ”stopping the boats” was violating the rights of Sri Lankans at risk of persecution from Sri Lankan authorities.

“Australia’s forced return of Sri Lankans after an inadequate refugee determination process violates Australia’s obligation to non-refoulement,” she said.

DEPARTMENT OF IMMIGRATION AND XENOPHOBIC PROPAGANDA

Some interesting youtube clips have emerged since the uprising at the Manus Island Immigration Detention Center.

One is this scarily accurate satire about Scott Morrison and the way politicians and the media have manipulated the Australian public to make the issue of asylum seekers a disproportionately large one.

There’s also this classic Freudian slip from Morrison who speaks of Operation Sovereign Murders.

Clarke and Dawe bagging Morriscum

This one is from 2011 but still funny and relevant

This is from 2007 but also funny and relevant

WOMEN TAKEOVER

In celebration of International Women’s Day this weeks show focuses on women.

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First listen to an episode of peace psychology documentary Peace in Mind about women in war and peace building, then enjoy almost 30 mins of a women in hip hop special from the Hostile Takeover crew.

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Hostile Takeover Women in Hip Hop Special

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KK Holliday ft Young Scooter – Mums DJ Benzi ft NY Nicky – Wood Grain Honey Cocaine – Bad Gal Big C – Look Alive T Love – That Kid Is Wack (with Kool Keith) Missy Elliot – Pass That Dutch Angel Haze – New York Beyoncé – Flawless Spice – So Mi Like It (Raw) Lardil Mobb – Walk The Streets – AUST (Gununa aka Mornington Island) Tamika – Proud To Be Black – AUST (Brisbane) Rye Rye – Shake It To The Ground Nicki Minaj – Beez In The Trap