The Week in Review: March.8th- March.15th

By Natasha Phillips

MAR.15 – Human rights lawyer and women’s rights defender Nasrin Sotoudeh was sentenced to 38 years in prison and 148 lashes for campaigning against mandatory hijab laws in Iran. A day after the sentence was handed down the United Nations appointed Iran to the UN Women’s Committee. The committee oversees complaints about women’s rights violations around the world. Iranians took to Twitter to discuss the decision. Meanwhile UN Special Rapporteur to Iran Javaid Rehman criticized Iran’s human rights track record in his first report to the council. Rehman called on the Iranian government to release all those detained for protesting peacefully. 

President Hassan Rouhani made his first official trip to Baghdad in order to secure trade deals with Iraq, auguring a new phase for Iran-Iraq relations. According to analysts, the deals signify Iran’s desire to off-set the re-implementation of U.S. sanctions which took effect last year, and increase Tehran’s influence in the region. Reuters reports that during the visit Iraq’s most senior Shi’ite cleric warned Iran to respect Iraq’s sovereignty and not to interfere with its domestic affairs. 

  • General Soleimani, the leader of the Quds Force in Iran which sits as a wing within the IRGC was awarded the nation’s top military honor. President Rouhani confirmed this week that he had awarded the Order of Zulfiqar to the commander, who is the first person to receive the medal since the 1979 Islamic revolution. An analyst speaking to Kayhan Life believes the award is part of a wider political strategy by Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei to bolster support from loyal members of the military and government, as Iran experiences growing pressures domestically and internationally. Link to source 
  • Ebrahim Raisi, a hardline conservative cleric was elected deputy chief of the Assembly of Experts, a week after being named chief of the judiciary. The Assembly of Experts is the body responsible for selecting the Supreme Leader in Iran. Raisi succeeds Ayatollah Hashemi Shahroudi, who died in December last year. Experts believe Raisi could be next in line to succeed Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
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  • Municipal workers in the Lavasanat District, north of Tehran, demolished parts of a house belonging to Shabnam Nematzadeh, the daughter of Mohammad Reza Nematzadeh who was Minister of Industry, Mining and Trade from 2013 to 2017.  Shabnam Nematzadeh and her mother Maryam Bakhtiar were investigated over corruption allegations between 2012 and 2017.The deputy director of Lavasanat District office for urban development told journalists that the home was in breach of a building code, exceeding the maximum footage listed in the building permit.
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  • Children with autism are neglected in Iran, according to the deputy director of the State Welfare Organization of Iran’s Office for Rehabilitation. While official statistics suggest that there are around 8,000 people with autism in Iran, the number is likely to be much higher with experts placing the figure anywhere between 320,000 to 700,000. Addressing attendees at the International Autism Conference held in January 2019 in India, Majid Ghadami, the director of Iran’s Special Education Organization, said: “There is a general lack of scientific knowledge regarding childhood autism among doctors, healthcare professionals, and educators in our country.”
    Link to source