Wife of Iranian-Canadian who died in jail barred from leaving Iran: Son

Iran’s academic community was in shock on Feb. 11, 2018 following the death of renowned environmentalist Kavous Seyed Emami, who authorities claimed committed suicide in prison a fortnight after his arrest. (Family Handout/AFP)
Updated 08 March 2018
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Wife of Iranian-Canadian who died in jail barred from leaving Iran: Son

LONDON: The wife of an Iranian-Canadian environmental activist who died in prison in Tehran last month was barred from leaving Iran, one of her sons said, in an unexplained move that drew an angry response from Canada.
Raam Emami said in an email to journalists that security forces had not allowed his mother Maryam Mombeini to get on a plane to Vancouver with him and his brother on Wednesday night.
Mombeini is the widow of Kavous Seyed-Emami, an environmental activist and sociology professor who was arrested on Jan. 24 and died in prison. Iran’s judiciary said Seyed-Emami, 63, had committed suicide.
The family has called for independent probe into his death.
Canada’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Chrystia Freeland, said in a message posted on Twitter that she was “outraged” to learn that Mombeini had been barred from leaving Iran.
“We demand that, as a Canadian, she be given the freedom to return home,” she added.
Iranian judiciary officials were not immediately available for comment.
Seyed-Emami was the managing director of the Persian Wildlife Heritage Foundation, which seeks to protect Iran’s rare animals. Iran’s judiciary said he had set up the NGO as a cover to collect classified information on Iran’s missile program.
Raam Emami said the family decided to leave Iran after being constantly “harassed.”
“The government raided our home and seized all of our valuables (most importantly deeds to our homes), we can no longer stand this state of constant terror,” he said.
Raam Emami has previously said that the family was under pressure from authorities not to publicize the case of Seyed-Emami.
“The authorities told our lawyers to tell the brothers ‘to shut up or we’ll shut them up,’ Emami said, adding government agents had told him they were watching him.
Human rights activists have reported that at least six detainees have died in prison in the last two months in Iran. The judiciary has confirmed three deaths in custody but said all three had committed suicide.
Bilateral ties between Iran and Canada worsened in 2003 when an Iranian-Canadian photo journalist, Zahra Kazemi, died in Tehran’s Evin prison while in custody.
Canada cut all diplomatic ties with Iran in 2012.


Jordan pushes new IMF-backed tax bill to parliament

Updated 26 September 2018
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Jordan pushes new IMF-backed tax bill to parliament

AMMAN: Jordan’s cabinet on Tuesday sent to parliament an IMF-backed draft tax bill, a main plank of austerity measures to ease rising public debt, an issue that caused street protests last summer, officials said.
The government hopes to push through the new legislation within two months despite opposition from many deputies, saying the law promotes social justice by targeting high earners and combats long-time corporate tax evaders.
Prime Minister Omar Al-Razzaz, a former World Bank economist, was appointed by the monarch last June after his predecessor was sacked in a move to defuse a crisis that saw some of the largest protests in years over tax hikes.
Razzaz withdrew from parliament a tax law that had been put forward by the previous government and said he would hold “broad consultations with civic bodies over a new tax system that will not trample on citizens’ rights.”
Earlier this year, a general sales tax was raised and a subsidy on bread was scrapped as part of the IMF’s three-year fiscal plan that aims to cut the spiralling $37 billion debt, equivalent to 95 percent of gross domestic product.
Unions and civic associations behind last June’s protests have rejected the new modified tax bill saying it should not have been drafted but have so far stopped short of calling for street protests. They want the government to give priority to fighting corruption and cutting public waste.
The government says the new law softens the impact of the tax hikes on middle class families by raising personal income thresholds and reintroducing personal exemptions.
Razzaz has promised to restore public trust in a country where many blame successive governments for failing to deliver on pledges of reviving growth and curbing corruption.
Razzaz has warned that parliament’s rejection of the bill would risk hurting the debt-laden economy, where annual growth has been stagnant at around 2 percent in recent years.
Any delay would push even higher the cost of servicing over 1 billion dinars ($1.4 billion) of foreign debt due in 2019, raising the prospect of rating agencies downgrading the kingdom’s credit ratings, Razzaz said in a recent interview with state television.
“If we don’t come with a tax law we will face these dangers. It will cost us dearly,” Razzaz said last week.
He said the tax bill would bring an extra 300 million dinars in revenue for the budget and avoid worsening a chronic 1.7 billion dinar budget shortfall. (Reporting by Suleiman Al-Khalidi; Editing by Janet Lawrence)