Category Archives: Human Rights


Inside Syria’s Gulag

By Nir Boms | May 26, 2004

On May 11, in accordance with the Syria Accountability Act, President Bush imposed new political and economic sanctions on Syria. The Syrian government, not surprisingly, was quick to condemn this move, calling the sanctions “unjust and unjustified,” and portraying Syria as a “democratic country that fights terrorism.”

While this sort of pro-democracy rhetoric has been a staple of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s four-year tenure, the story of Aktham Na’eesah-a lawyer, activist, and the recent laureate of the prestigious “Ludovic Trarieux” award for his distinct human rights work-provides a glimpse into the Syria’s “democratic” reality. Continue reading


Iran’s Summer Persecution

By Nir Boms and Reza Bulorchi
The National Interest | Tuesday, June 15, 2004

In recent years, summer in Iran has been marked by uprisings, strikes, public protests and the government’s harsh crackdown against them. There are signs this summer will be no different.

As the anniversary of the anti-government uprising of July 1999 approaches, widespread arrests of students and women are taking place. Some students are nabbed from their dormitories by plainclothes Revolutionary Guard agents, while many others are served arrest warrants. The US International Bureau of Broadcasting’s Radio Farda reported on May 29 that, “the persistent summoning and detention of students all over the country has caused fear and insecurity in universities.”

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Middle East transfer: The continuing Iranian persecution of its Ahwazi Arab population

By Nir Boms and Roee Nahmias, Henry Jackson Society,

6th September 2007


  • Over a million Arabs have been deported from the district of Al-Ahwaz, home to some eight million Arabs, in Southern-East Iran, near the Iraqi border. They have been replaced with Persian Iranians.
  • Human rights activists in this area have been arrested and placed in detention centres. Detainees have been subject to torture and at times execution.
  • As part of a broader Iranization policy, the teaching of Arabic is forbidden in Ahwaz while it is compulsory for students to learn Farsi.
  • This process is leading to greater Arab discontent in the region along with the Arabs associating Iran’s “imperialism” with that of Israel and the United States.
  • There are regional repercussions to the Farsi-Arab tensions. Clashes recently erupted between Iranian military forces and ethnic Arab Iranians who are calling for an independent state in southern Iran. Hussain Shariatmadari, presidential aide to president Ahmadinejad suggested uniting neighboring Bahrain with its “motherland” Iran. The Baharenis, on their part responded in furious demonstrations demanding the “liberation of Ahwaz” from Iranian occupation.
  • Iran’s belligerent posture towards its neighbors and Arab population echoes a dark European past of WWII. It is natural that an autocratic regime, lacking human rights values will manifest the same approach in its foreign policy vis a vis neighboring states.

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“Is Anyone Listening?”

November 21, 2003, 9:08

By Nir Boms & Erick Stakelbeck

“The advance of freedom is the calling of our time; it is the calling of our country.”

With this statement, made in his November 6, 2003, speech calling for the establishment of democracy in the Middle East, President Bush galvanized an increasingly active contingent of Syrian democracy advocates. The Reform Party of Syria (RPS) – a fledgling, U.S.-based political movement comprised of resident Syrians and Syrians living abroad – was formed shortly after 9/11 to express a voice that has been virtually nonexistent in Syria during 40 years of oppressive Baath-party rule: a voice of freedom. For members of RPS, Bush’s castigation of “dictators in Iraq and Syria” who “promised the restoration of national honor [and] left instead a legacy of torture, oppression, misery, and ruin” provided a source of hope for a new Syria, one free from extremism, terror, and iron-fisted rule.

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