/ DESTINATION GUIDE: Iran - The Undiscovered Adventure Capital

This topic has been archived, and won't accept reply postings.
UKC Articles - on 28 Feb 2017
Baraghaan, pinocchio 7b+, 4 kbUp until the 1970s Iran was a regular destination for international teams, travelling to experience its undiluted culture whilst putting up gnarly Alpine routes on its high peaks. Since then it's been "hidden under the heavy dust of politics", and the false impression has perpetuated that Iran is a no-go area for Westerners. Meanwhile Iran's thriving climbing scene has continued unabated, with its laid-back and friendly people too busy enjoying their climbing to market it to the outside world.

Andrew Healey sheds some light on this misunderstood yet remarkable country.

Read more
Stefan Jacobsen - on 28 Feb 2017
In reply to UKC Articles:

Just home from a weeks vacation in Iran including ice climbing around Khor (Khur) and mountaineering around Kalvan and it was great! We did the 'normal' tourist duty in Tehran and Isfahan too and especially the Naqsh-e Jahan Square and its surroundings were particularly interesting and we spent a whole day there. Iranians are very friendly, accommodating - and curious about us and our country. We certainly want to go back some time, Inshalla ;-)
jimtitt - on 28 Feb 2017
In reply to UKC Articles:

"hidden under the heavy dust of politics" or in other words since the 79 revolution Iran has been a presidential theocracy run by the Schiites with no democracy and an appalling human rights record.
If "adventure" includes public executions, flogging, amputation and stoning to death then a fine place to visit!
31
Stuart en Écosse - on 28 Feb 2017
In reply to jimtitt:
Start another thread in The Pub or Off Belay.
Post edited at 18:49
10
JayPee630 - on 28 Feb 2017
In reply to Stuart en Écosse:

Why? It's entirely appropriate to criticize things on threads where they're lauded with no mention of their downsides.
3
Stuart en Écosse - on 28 Feb 2017
In reply to JayPee630:
Depends on how appropriate you consider inaccurate an selective criticisms.

I'm going to Iran this year and I am very bored of being asked how I feel about the admittedly dreadful human rights issues by people who are happy to visit countries like China, Nepal, India, Jordan, USA, all the Stans, Morocco, etc without holding their noses. But the Trumpian narrative tells us Iran is bad, so it must be as simple as that.

UKC: Massive chapeau for this article. Aside from the information on climbing, I am a great believer that an increase of western tourists to Iran can only be a positive thing; to help de-isolate Iran from the rest of the world and to increase the very meagre understanding in the west about what Iran and Iranians are like as opposed to what Fox news tells us...
Post edited at 19:23
5
Robert Durran - on 28 Feb 2017
In reply to jimtitt:

> If "adventure" includes public executions, flogging, amputation and stoning to death then a fine place to visit!

The adventure seems to be more to do with climbing and skiing.

1
John Postlethwaite - on 28 Feb 2017
In reply to jimtitt:

> Iran has been a presidential theocracy run by the Schiites

Not to mention the Shiites

1
JayPee630 - on 28 Feb 2017
In reply to Stuart en Écosse:

I think it's being a bit ridiculous to think that people criticizing Iran are solely following what Trump has said.

And yes, I do agree there's plenty of countries with horrendous records, but personally I don't think it's about whether people visit countries or not really, but I do think it's OK to raise issues of things like human rights records etc etc when discussion of that country/area comes up.
1
Stuart en Écosse - on 28 Feb 2017
In reply to JayPee630:

> I think it's being a bit ridiculous to think that people criticizing Iran are solely following what Trump has said.

Not that it matters, but I don't think that about everyone.
riven - on 28 Feb 2017
In reply to UKC Articles:

Just a heads up to people. If you visit Iran you are no longer eligible for the US ESTA system and must apply for a visa before visiting the US. This caused quite some issues for several of my colleagues recently.
Stefan Jacobsen - on 28 Feb 2017
In reply to riven:

Yes, and with an Iranian visa in your passport you will spend some extra time going through immigration in Israel.
2
estivoautumnal - on 28 Feb 2017
In reply to Stefan Jacobsen:

Try entering Iran with and Israeli stamp!
Stefan Jacobsen - on 28 Feb 2017
In reply to estivoautumnal:

Impossible, but often circumvented by a slip in stead of a stamped visa!
estivoautumnal - on 28 Feb 2017
In reply to Stefan Jacobsen:

I recently exited Israel on a passport that was about to expire and asked for a stamp (normally they don't). I have 2 passports so was in no danger of using that one again. "Do not try to enter and Arab countries with this passport" was the advice I was given by the lady who stamped the passport. "Again I say, do not even try to visit an Arab country with this passport".

Disappointingly small stamp. I was hoping for huge star of David's or some other cliche'd Israeli icon, but no, a tiny circle.

RossG123 - on 28 Feb 2017
In reply to UKC Articles:

Great article!
People can make up their own mind as to the rights or wrongs of visiting a place like Iran, it's a personal choice. I applaud articles like this for stoking the imagination and getting me thinking about trips which are a little more exotic than the norm.
seankenny - on 28 Feb 2017
In reply to jimtitt:

Have you actually been to Iran Jim? The politics of the place are terrible and most Iranians will tell you that straight off, but actually it's a lovely place to visit. People are super friendly and it's very beautiful and culturally rich. The climbing looks great too! Thanks for running this article.
Simon Caldwell - on 01 Mar 2017
In reply to Stuart en Écosse:

> Depends on how appropriate you consider inaccurate an selective criticisms

Selective, yes, but which of the criticisms is inaccurate?
Zillas - on 01 Mar 2017
In reply to UKC Articles:

He's called Fischhuber and not Fishburger you twit. We don't call Chris Bonington "Bonerton" either.
Yes I know, he's never done anything on grit, but still....
JayPee630 - on 01 Mar 2017
In reply to seankenny:

FFS, have you read anything about the human rights record it has? Sure it is a lovely place to visit, but doesn't it make you a bit uncomfortable ignoring the horrendous abuses that happen there and just glossing over them?

Just have a quick skim of this https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Human_rights_in_the_Islamic_Republic_of_Iran
John2 - on 01 Mar 2017
In reply to JayPee630:

So you think we should cut the country off like another North Korea, rather than visiting it so that its inhabitants can learn how other countries function?
2
Dominic Green - on 01 Mar 2017
In reply to jimtitt:
Hi Jimtitt, I agree with your criticism -as would a lot of Iranians, I'm sure. I don't know if you have been there since '79 or not, or whether you are enacting a personal boycott on the country on the basis of your assessment. Apart from the reference to Shiites, your description would fit other countries better (Saudi Arabia). I must say that I think it is wrong to say no democracy. That would be true of Saudi. Iranian democracy is somewhat restricted and might not meet your personal standards, but then again, western democracy is looking a little threadbare at the moment.
I haven't been there since 1994, I would agree that the regime is cruel but it wasn't great before '79 either. You could not find a more hospitable people and to continue to demonise them is to deliberately overlook the shortcomings of some of the more distasteful western allies.
I'd say that a trip over there is not an endorsement of the regime and the tourism money is not necessarily going straight into the regime's nuclear program. Although I was in Mashad the one time that I was there, just after the festival of Asura (july 1994), during Safar when the more ardent believers were marching in groups self flagellating and that was pretty intense. Lots of death to America rhetoric too. No more intimidating than walking through your average northern city centre on a Friday night!
Post edited at 10:52
1
JayPee630 - on 01 Mar 2017
In reply to John2:

No, as I said earlier, I don't care about whether people visit or not, I think it's a red herring.

I *do* care and think it's important to criticize it when people glibly pass off horrendous human rights records as something minor (or ignore them altogether), or say we shouldn't talk about them when the country gets mentioned.
5
Adrien - on 01 Mar 2017
In reply to JayPee630:

How come you didn't raise human rights issues when UKC recently published destination guides for South Africa, Morocco and India? Unless the mass raping of women, poor treatment of miners, imprisonment of human rights activists and what have you don't count as human rights issues.

It's easy to jump on the bandwagon and cry wolf with others because our elites have decided that Iran and the Iranians are evil: it becomes an undeniable fact and you don't even have to justify yourself.

(That doesn't mean Iran doesn't have human rights issues. But boycotting a country and/or isolating it is pretty pointless and usually counterproductive.)
4
Jimbocz - on 01 Mar 2017
In reply to UKC Articles:
Irrespective of airy fairy concerns about general human rights, there's a real possibility that you'll be arrested and sentenced to 5 years in jail like Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe.

https://www.google.co.uk/amp/s/amp.theguardian.com/world/2017/jan/04/british-iranian-woman-nazanin-z...
Post edited at 14:21
1
JayPee630 - on 01 Mar 2017
In reply to Adrien:
Didn't see those article tbh.

And like I said I'm not arguing people shouldn't go.
Post edited at 14:39
neilh - on 01 Mar 2017
In reply to UKC Articles:

I would love to go. I have been repeatedly told as a business person that Iran is very welcoming.

Unfortunately it appears as though having an Iranian visa in your passport now causes big issues if you visit the States.( even if you have 2 passports,the info is still available to US immigration).

So if you do go, be warned about being denied entry to the States.The latetst publicised incident involved the ex footballer Dwight York who was refused entry to US becuase of an Iranian visa.
seankenny - on 01 Mar 2017
In reply to JayPee630:

> FFS, have you read anything about the human rights record it has? Sure it is a lovely place to visit, but doesn't it make you a bit uncomfortable ignoring the horrendous abuses that happen there and just glossing over them?Just have a quick skim of this https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Human_rights_in_the_Islamic_Republic_of_Iran

Before visiting Iran I learnt some Persian (not necessary for a trip by any means, but fun) and read a bunch of books about the place, so yes, I did have a very good idea of the human rights issues before I went. Didn't "gloss over them" at all, in fact I spoke to a lot of Iranians about how terrible their government is/was. They usually bought this up so I had lots of chats about why the regime is terrible, what they wanted for the future, etc. One Friday afternoon I waited outside a mosque as the people inside chanted "death to America/Israel/England" and then met lots of the chanters afterwards - and of course I said I was from England.

Having met lots of really great people on my trip makes me more not less aware of the damage such a repressive government does to its people. It's awful - and I'd love to see the country open up to the world and become less repressive and violent. I've visited plenty of police states, failed states and barely functioning places and Iran is definitely the former, but it's also a country with large numbers of women in education and perhaps the least religious feeling place in the Islamic world. Mostly the mosques are full of architecture students!

To turn your question about, would you visit the Deep South of America? A place where blacks are still routinely killed by the state, imprisoned for long periods of time, killed on death row and suffer far worse educational and employment prospects than whites. Would a climbing trip to that part of America not make you feel somewhat uncomfortable?
1
JayPee630 - on 01 Mar 2017
In reply to seankenny:

> To turn your question about, would you visit the Deep South of America? A place where blacks are still routinely killed by the state, imprisoned for long periods of time, killed on death row and suffer far worse educational and employment prospects than whites. Would a climbing trip to that part of America not make you feel somewhat uncomfortable?

Not sure how many times I have to say this.... I am NOT saying people shouldn't go.
2
nb - on 01 Mar 2017
In reply to UKC Articles:

For all those people saying we shouldn't visit Iran because of its human rights record, please stop putting petrol in your car.



3
JayPee630 - on 01 Mar 2017
In reply to nb:

That's just a nonsensical argument worthy of a sixth form student. "Just because we can't avoid doing some bad things we shouldn't bother about any of them." Honestly, have you not got a better case?

Just for your info, it's much easier to avoid doing some things than others.
seankenny - on 01 Mar 2017
In reply to JayPee630:

> Not sure how many times I have to say this.... I am NOT saying people shouldn't go.

I think you were saying that people who had gone there were probably ignoring human rights abuses and being somewhat callous if they said it was a great country to visit. Honestly, given the choice between what you said and what he thought you said, I'd go with the later!
2
JayPee630 - on 01 Mar 2017
In reply to seankenny:

No, I said the article glossed over them, as have some other people on here since.
John2 - on 01 Mar 2017
In reply to neilh:

Could you get over this by applying for a new passport?
seankenny - on 01 Mar 2017
In reply to JayPee630:

> No, I said the article glossed over them, as have some other people on here since.

So do you feel articles on climbing in the following countries gloss over human rights abuses: Turkey, US, India, Pakistan, Nepal, Kenya? Or are we to take climbers (particularly the well travelled ones) as knowing a bit about the world and not needing everything spelling out for them? Or is Iran simply a different case from the others I've mentioned?
2
neilh - on 01 Mar 2017
In reply to John2:

From what I understand the visas are all recored electronically anyway.....and all so you may find that USA immigration just put a question on their forms for you to answer.

it is not an easy one.
Darren Jackson - on 01 Mar 2017
In reply to John2:

> Could you get over this by applying for a new passport?

I used to do a lot of business travel to the Middle East; Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, UAE etc. I had two passports, as one would often be sent away for a visa, whilst I was travelling on the other one.

I took a trip to Israel, and travelled on the passport that didn't contain any stamps from Arab nations. All to no avail, as I got pulled out of the queue at Ben Gurion Airport and was introduced to a couple of gentlemen who proceeded to empty my suitcase whilst quizzing me about the trips to the Arab nations.

They know, you know...
JayPee630 - on 01 Mar 2017
In reply to seankenny:

Yes, Iran is different. If by different you mean worse, then yes Iran has a much much worse record than all those countries you mentioned, matched in the world by very few.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_freedom_indices
JayPee630 - on 01 Mar 2017
In reply to Darren Jackson:
Next up on the UKC destination guide, North Korea, never mind the 'dusty politics' look at the lovely bouldering. Very friendly to tourists I hear. Cheap too.

Human rights problems? Don't bring them up here. And you can shut up if you use petrol. Never hear you complain about the US do we?


Post edited at 17:11
10
seankenny - on 01 Mar 2017
In reply to JayPee630:

> Yes, Iran is different. If by different you mean worse, then yes Iran has a much much worse record than all those countries you mentioned, matched in the world by very few. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_freedom_indices

Hmmm, I'm not sure it is that different. I mean, every grim country is grim in its own special way, but to mark it out as a particular outlier seems to me a little naive.
3
JayPee630 - on 01 Mar 2017
In reply to seankenny:
You seriously saying that the US (for example) is not that different to Iran in terms of human rights?!

Have you seen what people that measure these things say? Did you look at the above list or the wiki entry on Iran's human rights record? We're not talking a bit 'grim' here, we're taking systematic torture, repression, disappearances, summary execution, press closure, prosecution on religious grounds etc etc.

It's not the only one that's terrible, but it's in the top few along with North Korea.
Post edited at 17:28
nb - on 01 Mar 2017
In reply to JayPee630:

> That's just a nonsensical argument worthy of a sixth form student. "Just because we can't avoid doing some bad things we shouldn't bother about any of them." Honestly, have you not got a better case? Just for your info, it's much easier to avoid doing some things than others.

I'll ignore the condescendance!! Honestly, I can see only advantages in western tourists visiting Iran, but only disadvantages in our dependence on fossil fuels from Middle-Eastern dictatorships (of which Iran is not one). The hypocrisy of thinking it's bad to visit Iran, but good to buy Saudi oil is simply astounding.

1
David Martin - on 01 Mar 2017
In reply to JayPee630:
I wonder how close the actual day-to-day lived reality of Iranians compares to such indices.

My evidence is of course purely anecdotal and based on just 4 days spent in Tehran in July. The country was not as I had been led to believe. There is oppression, but a visitor would be hard pressed to spot it, the locals are friendly, military and police in no way threatening, and the country generally sophisticated, cultured and modern. The biggest visible risks appeared to be every driver considering themselves a formula-one ace.

What does go on, clearly goes on in a less than overt way and people are most definitely pushing back the headscarves and challenging authority. While they can't do so in a way that we would deem truly open and fair, times change. Our own children will no doubt find it absurd that gays and drug users were forced to engage in their "crimes" behind closed doors and risked lengthily prison sentences. Iran too is reforming with a population chomping at the bit to move on.

No doubt, there are plenty rotting away in prison for reasons we wouldn't agree with. But I object to there being over 3,000 people in the US serving life sentences for non-violent crime. That hardly needs mentioning in a climbing guide. Given much of the situation Iran finds itself in is a direct result of the US and the UK instigating a coup d'etat, and given Iran's tenuous security situation (the US overtly threatening it from all sides, not to mention the instability of nearly all its neighbours), given the context, I was surprised at just how free the country felt. It should, be like North Korea. It clearly isn't.
Post edited at 17:34
2
JayPee630 - on 01 Mar 2017
In reply to nb:

I never said it was bad to visit Iran. And I haven't said it was good to buy Saudi oil have I?
nb - on 01 Mar 2017
In reply to JayPee630:

So why did you answer my first message?
1
TobyA on 01 Mar 2017
In reply to Jimbocz:

> there's a real possibility that you'll be arrested and sentenced to 5 years in jail like Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe.

A real possibility? That seems rather unlikely. Zaghari-Ratcliffe's case is pretty awful but she is an Iranian citizen working for a politically connected Western NGO, I think someone going climbing for a few days isn't going to fit into the same bracket.
1
seankenny - on 01 Mar 2017
In reply to JayPee630:

> You seriously saying that the US (for example) is not that different to Iran in terms of human rights?!

Well, extra-judicial murder by the state occurs, as does a very high incaceration rate and there are plenty of people alive who lived under Jim Crow. Now of course in general, and at the moment, the US is of course way better than Iran, despite these horrors. But no one sees the need to outline this fact in an article about Yosemite, despite the fact that on my first trip to the Valley I felt more at risk in SF than I ever did in Tehran.


> Have you seen what people that measure these things say? Did you look at the above list or the wiki entry on Iran's human rights record? We're not talking a bit 'grim' here, we're taking systematic torture, repression, disappearances, summary execution, press closure, prosecution on religious grounds etc etc.It's not the only one that's terrible, but it's in the top few along with North Korea.

As I said, I've done my homework. But I've also visited a lot of nasty countries and Iran is not the worst by a long shot. In fact, as David says above, it's rather great. I can assure you that all those things you list happen in India, for example. Would you say that any article on climbing or mountaineering in India is missing something if it doesn't mention those facts?

3
JayPee630 - on 01 Mar 2017
In reply to seankenny:

You might not think Iran is the worst, but the statistics and organisations say otherwise. How good a time you had there is anecdotal nonsense, not relevant. And if you talk to people there of course most will not have had a bad time either. But look at the evidence.
seankenny - on 01 Mar 2017
In reply to JayPee630:

> You might not think Iran is the worst, but the statistics and organisations say otherwise. How good a time you had there is anecdotal nonsense, not relevant. And if you talk to people there of course most will not have had a bad time either. But look at the evidence.

The thing is, you can visit countries where most people you talk to have had an absolutely awful time. Iran isn't one of those - in fact the UN (an organisation which uses statistics) puts it in the "high human development" section of it's human development index. That is of course a different thing from measuring press freedom, etc, but I'm fairly certain those metrics are included in the HDI.

2
Stuart en Écosse - on 01 Mar 2017
In reply to Simon Caldwell:
I was typing a reply then noticed the first paragraph of Dominic Green's post, which answers your question for me, but more eloquently.
Post edited at 18:51
1
ads.ukclimbing.com
Stuart en Écosse - on 01 Mar 2017
In reply to JayPee630:

> No, I said the article glossed over them

That's because the article was about climbing.
2
alicia - on 01 Mar 2017
In reply to seankenny:

> Well, extra-judicial murder by the state occurs, as does a very high incaceration rate and there are plenty of people alive who lived under Jim Crow. Now of course in general, and at the moment, the US is of course way better than Iran, despite these horrors. But no one sees the need to outline this fact in an article about Yosemite, despite the fact that on my first trip to the Valley I felt more at risk in SF than I ever did in Tehran. As I said, I've done my homework. But I've also visited a lot of nasty countries and Iran is not the worst by a long shot. In fact, as David says above, it's rather great. I can assure you that all those things you list happen in India, for example. Would you say that any article on climbing or mountaineering in India is missing something if it doesn't mention those facts?

I think the key difference that you're missing is whether the abuses are sanctioned by the state, i.e. legal under the country's own laws. Bad things happen everywhere, of course, but it's a significant level worse when those bad things are given the support of a country's law.

I notice that all of the comments suggesting that Iran's human rights situation is not relevant here, on the basis that either there are worse places or that the situation is not in fact that dire, appear to be from men. I'm curious as to how you would compare the current treatment of women in Iran to the treatment of Blacks in South Africa under apartheid. And would you have advocated a climbing trip to South Africa whilst apartheid was ongoing?
seankenny - on 01 Mar 2017
In reply to alicia:

I can assure you that I get the difference between what is sanctioned in law, and what "simply happens". However I'm not sure that Iranian law allows some of the things that have happened there - rather that some parts of the state see themselves as above the law. But then the question of how the Islamic republic works is a subtle and complex one... certainly beyond my pay grade.

As to the status of women, it is not straightforward either. For sure there is discrimination and sexist laws. But you see women everywhere in Iran doing all the normal stuff you see them doing here. That's very different to say Pakistan or even parts of northern India. It's a very different situation to apartheid (tho I get the superficial similarity, just don't think it holds). Clearly Iran has a long way to go. But to hold it out as an exemplar of nastiness is misreading the situation.

But don't believe me. I follow some Iranian climbers on Instagram and some of them are female. You could too - and message them to ask what the situation is like.
1
alicia - on 01 Mar 2017
In reply to seankenny:

I'm not sure seeing women walking around on the street doing "all the normal stuff" is a good bar for measuring human rights. Try sitting in on a few moments that have a bit more impact on a woman's life--any kind of civil legal issue, a criminal prosecution, university, travel, even sports competitions--and see how it goes.

What specific differences would you see from apartheid? Is it the legally-mandated segregation from others, the lack of full legal status, the state-sanctioned harsher treatment by the criminal justice system, the state-imposed bars to education? Oh wait...

Don't get me wrong, I think the climbing trip issue is a tough call. On one hand, more contact between Iranians and foreigners is probably beneficial for both. On the other hand, it seems morally wrong to spend any money there until women are no longer second-class citizens. it also amazes me that men often don't recognize that moral issue, whereas they most likely would if it involved a group of people who were not all women.

1
Shani - on 01 Mar 2017
In reply to UKC Articles:

Great article. I'd better look in to visiting while I can:

Theintercept.com/2017/03/01/trumps-moderate-defense-secretary-has-already-brought-us-to-the-brink-of-war/
1
winhill - on 01 Mar 2017
In reply to Darren Jackson:

> I used to do a lot of business travel to the Middle East; Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, UAE etc. I had two passports, as one would often be sent away for a visa, whilst I was travelling on the other one. I took a trip to Israel, and travelled on the passport that didn't contain any stamps from Arab nations. All to no avail, as I got pulled out of the queue at Ben Gurion Airport and was introduced to a couple of gentlemen who proceeded to empty my suitcase whilst quizzing me about the trips to the Arab nations.They know, you know...

It's a religious thing:

Leviticus 11:13

13 “And these you shall detest among the birds; they shall not be eaten; they are detestable: the eagle, the bearded vulture, the black vulture, 14 the kite, the falcon of any kind, 15 every raven of any kind, 16 the ostrich, the nighthawk, the sea gull, the hawk of any kind, 17 the little owl, the cormorant, the short-eared owl, 18 the barn owl, the tawny owl, the carrion vulture, 19 the stork, the heron of any kind, the hoopoe, and the bat.
TobyA on 01 Mar 2017
In reply to alicia:

I'm sure many of us have been on trips, climbing or not, to places where women are treated pretty awfully - it's an issue way beyond Muslim-majority states. My impression is that women's rights in Iran is a considerably more complex situation than many would imagine, and perhaps better in some ways than in some of Iran's Sunni and Arabic speaking near neighbours.
1
alicia - on 01 Mar 2017
In reply to TobyA:

I don't think anyone is saying it's not complex, but saying that it's complex does nothing to make the case for why it's morally acceptable to go there.

And no, I haven't been on any trips to countries where the state-sanctioned treatment of women is as bad as it is in Iran. And I likely wouldn't. I wrestled enough with my choice to have a flight layover in Dubai recently...
seankenny - on 01 Mar 2017
In reply to alicia:
> I'm not sure seeing women walking around on the street doing "all the normal stuff" is a good bar for measuring human rights. Try sitting in on a few moments that have a bit more impact on a woman's life--any kind of civil legal issue, a criminal prosecution, university, travel, even sports competitions--and see how it goes.

In case this comment came across as crass or insensitive, can I point out that there are plenty of countries which no one raises an eyebrow at visiting but where women most certainly don't do "all the normal stuff"? Comparing Iran to other parts of the Islamic world which I've visited (we're talking seven or eight countries here) and it's much more liberal, at least superficially. Oh for sure, the religious police are around and out to make people's lives shit. But it feels like the experiment with theocracy has left many people jaded, whereas elsewhere in the Muslim world (and let's be fair, in parts of the Christian world too) there is quite a hankering for more religious involvement in politics. Again, this is just my impression.

As for the points you raise, I think it's complex. Yes, pervasive discrimination against women in many areas and the abomination that is early marriage is encouraged in part by the state. Women clearly are not free to act as they are here in the west. But it's not all grim - there are plenty of Iranian women getting an education, pursuing careers, marrying who they want to, etc.

I think the problem for us outsiders in looking at Iran is two-fold. Firstly, the system it runs on is deeply opaque. Who runs what, which laws are enforced or not enforced, and why - these aren't easy questions to answer. It's also changeable, like politics anywhere. Secondly, Iranian society and government are frequently two different things, as is often the case both in oppressive countries and in developing ones. The difference between conservative village life and the wealthy or middle classes in the big cities is vast. This is a country with medieval torture and a thriving heavy metal scene. And whilst I think the weird fractured government is unusual, this huge difference between government and culture is really common in the developing world (and indeed should be familiar to anyone who remembers Britain in the late 80s/early 90s - albeit at a much less extreme level).

My point is not that Iran is a bed of roses but that it is not some kind of uniquely horrible place, and we are deeply selective in what we choose to see. The current boom in tourism in Sri Lanka, for instance, is really predicated on the massacre of tens of thousands of civilians by their own government. India has violence and discrimination galore based on gender, caste, religion and language, but there were no howls of outrage about this when UKC published an article on Hampi. It is clearly not the case that we are aghast at a public flogging for adultery in Iran but don't care if a dalit woman is gang-raped in village India* - but we definitely tell ourselves different stories about whether to visit these places.

*and if you think the difference in the two is that one is mandated by the state and one isn't, well I would point out that members of the current Indian government were banned from travelling to the US for their roles in a religious massacre, etc etc.

> What specific differences would you see from apartheid? Is it the legally-mandated segregation from others, the lack of full legal status, the state-sanctioned harsher treatment by the criminal justice system, the state-imposed bars to education? Oh wait...

Are women in Iran segregated from others in the same way as black people were in aparteid SA? I'm afraid I don't buy that. As for education, Iran has done very well on educating women but seems to be going backwards on that front. Totally agree with you about legal status but then no doubt so would someone like Shirin Ebadi... Again, the big difference seems to me to be that class and wealth can probably buy women more space which I don't think was the case in apartheid SA.

> Don't get me wrong, I think the climbing trip issue is a tough call. On one hand, more contact between Iranians and foreigners is probably beneficial for both. On the other hand, it seems morally wrong to spend any money there until women are no longer second-class citizens. it also amazes me that men often don't recognize that moral issue, whereas they most likely would if it involved a group of people who were not all women.

It's not that I don't recognise this as a moral issue. It's rather that if I made this the criteria on where to travel, I'd probably never leave western Europe. Would you go to Yosemite or Bishop given that black people are arguably second class citizens in the US? Would you go to Nepal given the caste discrimination which goes on there? Would you climb in Kenya where tribal-based discrimination is rife? Would you ever visit somewhere where the rule of law doesn't hold particularly well?
Post edited at 22:03
3
winhill - on 01 Mar 2017
In reply to alicia:

> On the other hand, it seems morally wrong to spend any money there until women are no longer second-class citizens. it also amazes me that men often don't recognize that moral issue, whereas they most likely would if it involved a group of people who were not all women.

It's not necessarily that simple, a good example is the Women's World Chess Championship 2017. There have been problems finding countries that are willing to host women's chess events (and to an extent men's as well) so under pressure FIDE chose Iran. It's pretty mental as they make the women wear hijabs to play and in all publicity shots (as they have done at previous events).

So there's been a boycott by some top players, the final is on now and one of the finalists is Anna Muzychuk, however she has a more talented younger sister Mariya (won in 2015) who isn't there because she's doing the boycott. Even sisters might not agree on the best course of action.

http://tehran2017.fide.com/

https://en.chessbase.com/post/protest-against-playing-the-women-s-world-championship-in-iran

I would agree though that when people are looking for exotic holiday destinations (itself not a great past time) there is often a perverse sense of adventure that adds itself to visiting countries with questionable human rights records or levels of danger - it makes them more exotic by some measures.
In reply to seankenny and alicia:

This article may be of interest: https://www.ukclimbing.com/articles/page.php?id=8304
alicia - on 01 Mar 2017
In reply to seankenny:

It did come across as crass and insensitive. Ask a bunch of women whether they'd prefer to be able to do the shopping and go to a cafe or to have the exact same legal rights as a man, and see what they say.

The rest of your post still seems to miss the problems that arise when the treatment of women is not just discrimination due to existing culture but is written into the law. This removes even the theoretical possibility of equality and conveys an unequivocal statement that women are worth less than men in that country. I see this as a fairly reasonable dividing line between where to go (and thus support with my tourist dollars) and where not to go.

*Your example regarding the Indian govt members is not an example of state-sanctioned discrimination since religious massacres are not legal in India. State actors commit crimes everywhere.
1
alicia - on 01 Mar 2017
In reply to Natalie Berry - UKC:

Thanks Natalie, I remember reading that and finding it interesting.
nb - on 01 Mar 2017
In reply to seankenny:
> Comparing Iran to other parts of the Islamic world which I've visited (we're talking seven or eight countries here) and it's much more liberal, at least superficially

My experience of Iran is that it's fundamentally liberal, but with a ruling system that tries to oppress. The people always seems to be pushing back against the system, at least in Tehran and Isphahan. Less so in the smaller towns and villages.
Post edited at 23:22
1
seankenny - on 01 Mar 2017
In reply to alicia:

> It did come across as crass and insensitive. Ask a bunch of women whether they'd prefer to be able to do the shopping and go to a cafe or to have the exact same legal rights as a man, and see what they say.

My apologies. I was implicitly comparing the situation in Iran with elsewhere in the Muslim world - which is very different. If you've not seen the crazy patriarchal world that exists in similar countries (and thankfully I have not been to Saudi) then you might not get where I'm coming from on Iran. It's simply quite a different country, and socially ahead of countries which get written about an awful lot in the climbing press and which aren't so controversial. I wouldn't expect an article extolling trekking in the Karakoram to get such replies, even tho it's part of the world where women most definitely can't do the shopping or go to a cafe, regardless of their legal rights.


> The rest of your post still seems to miss the problems that arise when the treatment of women is not just discrimination due to existing culture but is written into the law. This removes even the theoretical possibility of equality and conveys an unequivocal statement that women are worth less than men in that country. I see this as a fairly reasonable dividing line between where to go (and thus support with my tourist dollars) and where not to go.

*Your example regarding the Indian govt members is not an example of state-sanctioned discrimination since religious massacres are not legal in India. State actors commit crimes everywhere.

I'm sorry but I believe that massacres in India (and many other places) have been state-sanctioned, even if they are against the law. The interplay between the statute book and what the state does and allows is always complex, and the combination of encouragement and impunity makes a mockery of whatever the state purports to believe in, as opposed to what the people running it at any one time actually do believe in. (See also, for example, democracy in Russia.) Downplaying this huge gap is probably the sort of thing that makes non-western people laugh at us.

My (rather uninformed) take would be that society and law are going at very different speeds in Iran. Perhaps this is hopeful for the future: maybe laws will be amended and introduced which will also have acceptance in the wider society. Anyhow, since you share my distaste for the Iranian regime, perhaps you'd care to sign my incredibly unsuccessful petition which touches on its crimes:
https://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/mr-corbyn-return-the-money-you-took-from-iran
1
PeakDJ on 02 Mar 2017
In reply to JayPee630:
> FFS, have you read anything about the human rights record it has? Sure it is a lovely place to visit, but doesn't it make you a bit uncomfortable ignoring the horrendous abuses that happen there and just glossing over them?Just have a quick skim of this https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Human_rights_in_the_Islamic_Republic_of_Iran

Hmmmm....why on earth would that stop someone being interested in the climbing? More foreign visitors has to be a good thing, surely!

But if you're determined to talk about human rights, how confident are you that you live in a country that doesn't cause frequent misery in other countries? By means of an example, it's not like the UK govt would ever sell weapons to the Saudi regime for their proxy wars is it? Of course, nor would our govt invoke sanctions on Iraq during the Gulf war that might result in the death of thousands of innocent civilians. The methods might be less direct but they still result in mass death and misery in the interest of protecting the corporate paymasters. The Iranian stonings and other human rights abuses might be more "in your face" but it's not like our own country has done much to set a good example, is it? Our continual preaching to Iran about it's nuclear programme is also worthy of consideration too, I think!
Post edited at 05:45
2
JayPee630 - on 02 Mar 2017
In reply to PeakDJ:

>But if you're determined to talk about human rights, how confident are you that you live in a country that doesn't cause frequent misery in other countries? By means of an example, it's not like the UK govt would ever sell weapons to the Saudi regime for their proxy wars is it? Of course, nor would our govt invoke sanctions on Iraq during the Gulf war that might result in the death of thousands of innocent civilians. The methods might be less direct but they still result in mass death and misery in the interest of protecting the corporate paymasters. The Iranian stonings and other human rights abuses might be more "in your face" but it's not like our own country has done much to set a good example, is it? Our continual preaching to Iran about it's nuclear programme is also worthy of consideration too, I think!

Oh ffs, whataboutery. Yes the UK does some awful things too. But this is about Iran.

JR_NL - on 02 Mar 2017
In reply to neilh:

You might get denied entry into the US if you don't get a visa (which is what the requirement is). I went to Iran before this law went into effect, already had a different passport but due to the line of work that I'm in I wasn't going to risk getting refused entry.

I went to get a visa just to be safe. First time I ever went for a US visa it took me 2 hours, this time I was in and out in 15 minutes (even the guard was surprised!) and was asked just 3 questions. 1) Why did you go to Iran? 2) What did you do there? 3) Have you met any government officials? After that I was good to go and got my passport and visa a few days later.
Frank the Husky - on 02 Mar 2017
In reply to UKC Articles: That's a good article - thanks for publishing it; hopefully it will encourage more of us to visit. The complaints about the regime in Iran are justified in some cases, but no one raises these levels of concern when a destination guide to the US turns up. This is a country founded on genocide and slavery, where killing blacks is verging on "state sponsored" in some locations, and where casual and overt racism is par for the course. The US has the highest per capita incarceration rate in the world, and they've been at war with one country or another every year for the last 50 years. That's before we even get to a discussion of their weapons of mass distruction and support for Israel's murderous rampages.

If Afghanistan was anything to go by, Iran is going to be super friendly and the food will be fabulous.



2
neilh - on 02 Mar 2017
In reply to JR_NL:

Was that in the past few weeks?

And as I am always reminded by a friend who works in the State department...it is no guarantee, immigration in US can stop you going in even with a visa..they have final say on the border.

It is clearly in a state of flux at the moment with our good friend Mr Trump ( sarcastic comment)

You should try finding the article about Dwight York who was refused entry one ot two weeks ago.

People need to be wary.

David Martin - on 02 Mar 2017
In reply to JayPee630:
> Oh ffs, whataboutery. Yes the UK does some awful things too. But this is about Iran.

I don't see anything wrong with "whataboutery". Not when the exact problem here seems to be criticism heaped on Iran which isn't likewise given to countries we have a more favourable impression of but which are equally bad, if not worse, in many respects.

Much of the generalised media hate towards Iran is focussed on issues (i.e. nuclear programmes and its support for fellow Shia in the region) entirely unrelated to its human rights record, with the disinterest in issues more pressing to the average Western citizen being unsurprising given the awkward questions it poses about our support for all kinds of nasty regimes. Anyone judging Iran on media reporting would have you think it is an oppressive totalitarian state akin to North Korea. The reality is very different, but it continues to be attacked on all levels, and threatened with war on a regular basis. The US and UK were indirectly, arguably directly, responsible for prolonging and making more bloody its protracted war with Iraq. Iran is deeply scarred and continues to be treated as an utter pariah.

Given the circumstances, apart from battling through immigration challenges at Khomenie Airport, I was amazed at how overwhelmingly welcoming, liberal-minded and open Iranians were. Yes, they're demoralised by their leadership and have to accept all kinds of crap with a shrug of the shoulders. But labelling Iran as degenerate and discouraging people from going there does no one any good and just perpetuates a hostile narrative - one that would be hostile towards Iran no matter how exemplary its human rights record.
Post edited at 12:14
1
he'snotthemessiah on 02 Mar 2017
In reply to David Martin:

Its a good article & does look a nice place regards the landscape.

Its worth pointing people in the direction of the below regards proper info to stay safe..
https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/iran

I hope everyone decides to go, then I can have the worlds more chilled out venues to myself. Plus the Beer will probably get even cheaper!
PeakDJ on 02 Mar 2017
In reply to JayPee630:
> Oh ffs, whataboutery. Yes the UK does some awful things too. But this is about Iran.

It's about Iran as a climbing and adventure destination...not the country's human rights record!

In your opinion, in every climbing article about the UK, should we mention the UK past atrocities? No? Then why shouldn't a piece be written about climbing in Iran without any mention of the human rights situation?
Post edited at 12:43
1
JayPee630 - on 02 Mar 2017
In reply to PeakDJ:

Would you have been happy with an article encouraging a trip to apartheid South Africa, or North Korea now, without even raising the issues of human rights/oppression of people?

You're an idiot if you think the UK's record is anything approaching Iran in terms of current internal human rights issues, which is what we're talking about here, not past atrocities.
1
alicia - on 02 Mar 2017
In reply to PeakDJ:

> It's about Iran as a climbing and adventure destination...not the country's human rights record! In your opinion, in every climbing article about the UK, should we mention the UK past atrocities? No? Then why shouldn't a piece be written about climbing in Iran without any mention of the human rights situation?

Because they are, as you say, past. By travelling to the UK in 2017, you are not supporting what the UK did in, say, the 1970s. By travelling to Iran in 2017, you are supporting what Iran is doing in 2017.

To you and several others on this thread in general, just to be clear, if a country had laws that explicitly said:

-Blacks' lives are worth 50% of white people's lives
-Blacks can only attend certain universities and can only study certain subjects
-Blacks can't travel without the permission of a white person
-Blacks are barred from some occupations
-Blacks' testimony in court is worth 50% of a white person's testimony
-Blacks are barred from public stadiums and sporting events where white people are present
-Blacks must wear a special outfit as dictated by white people

you would be happy to support this country as a tourist? And if you did, can you imagine how black climbers from the UK might not be overly impressed with your decision?

1
jess13 - on 02 Mar 2017
In reply to JayPee630:

> Would you have been happy with an article encouraging a trip to apartheid South Africa, or North Korea now, without even raising the issues of human rights/oppression of people?You're an idiot if you think the UK's record is anything approaching Iran in terms of current internal human rights issues, which is what we're talking about here, not past atrocities.

Bit of extreme whataboutery here - South Africa hasnt been an apartheid country for many years now and I dont think anyone wants to plan a trip to North Korea for any sort of recreation.
1
JayPee630 - on 02 Mar 2017
In reply to jess13:

No, it's not whataboutery. It's asking if they would have been happy with those examples. I know SA isn't now, that wasn't the question.

And funny that since you mention North Korea, Iran gets the same across the board ratings for civil/human rights and oppression.
Jimbocz - on 02 Mar 2017
In reply to TobyA:
> A real possibility? That seems rather unlikely. Zaghari-Ratcliffe's case is pretty awful but she is an Iranian citizen working for a politically connected Western NGO, I think someone going climbing for a few days isn't going to fit into the same bracket.

You sound pretty confident. Care to bet? If you lose, you get to spend 5 years in an Iranian jail.
Post edited at 15:01
JR_NL - on 02 Mar 2017
In reply to neilh:

That was September, with 3 US visits in the 2 months after
seankenny - on 02 Mar 2017
In reply to alicia:

> Because they are, as you say, past. By travelling to the UK in 2017, you are not supporting what the UK did in, say, the 1970s. By travelling to Iran in 2017, you are supporting what Iran is doing in 2017.

You mean by travelling somewhere you're explictly supporting the state that is in control in that place? So when I went to South Sudan I was somehow supporting a government who uses famine as a weapon of war? Or when I went to the US I was somehow supporting the death penalty?

You are entirely right about the laws you've stated, of course. They are an abomination. But there are plenty of Iranians who will tell you this - and who are trying to change their country. It's interesting that at least one of the women in the article Natalie linked to wanted foreign visitors...







neilh - on 02 Mar 2017
In reply to JR_NL:

What do you reckon at the moment as clearly the position has changed?
alicia - on 02 Mar 2017
In reply to seankenny:

Yes, to a degree. You are saying that you don't find the state's policies to be so far beyond the bounds of what is morally acceptable that it would justify not going to that state. And travel boycotts can be effective:

http://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/governors-lift-state-funded-travel-bans-indiana-after-law-change...

It's not a contest where the worst country wins your lack of travel, either. If you think the situation in the US is so bad that it justifies a ban (which is certainly a reasonable position to take), don't visit. You don't need to choose between not visiting the US or not visiting Iran. There's also the issue of the difference between a visit purely as a tourist and a visit with the goal of effecting some sort of change...but that would require its own discussion!

BTW I will check out your petition.
1
JR_NL - on 02 Mar 2017
In reply to neilh:

I don't think I'd have any issues....
sn - on 02 Mar 2017
In reply to UKC Articles:

Interesting article - while reading it a thought was going through my mind along the lines of why there was little mention of the political aspects of a visit, but on reflection, the reasonably informed reader (and I'm sure all climbers are..?) should be mature enough to find that out for themselves (ah, the wonders of Wikipedia).

I would think twice about visiting many Middle East countries for a climbing trip for a variety of reasons, but I do wonder if it's at all possible to be completely objective - If Iran were an 'ally', would people feel differently.

Also, if you disagree with the regime of a country, is it best changed by isolation or more of an exchange of people and ideas ? The isolation route certainly does not appear to be one that works in many cases. Is it OK to not visit but to run your car on their oil - who benefits most from tourism, and who from oil ? So may questions - best stick to Stanage.
sn - on 02 Mar 2017
In reply to UKC Articles:
All future articles should by decree carry a full run-down of current political / social issues together with an apology for past British misdeeds which have undoubtedly contributed to the situation. After all, it's not like we have freedom of speech !!!!

PS - the above is a joke...just in case
Post edited at 16:14
planetmarshall on 02 Mar 2017
In reply to alicia:

> By travelling to Iran in 2017, you are supporting what Iran is doing in 2017.

Well, that's the crux of it. You're right to highlight a double standard in the treatment of discrimination against women versus that of ethnic minorities. Had UKC been around would it have run a destination guide to Rocklands in the 80s? I wonder. Hell, you might even make an arguable case for avoiding Ireland on the basis of abortion rights.

A government is not its people, however, and I think you have to ask yourself who it is you're hurting by avoiding tourism to countries with whose policies you don't agree. Their government? Or the people who, as alluded to above, may be a far cry from the way they they are portrayed abroad.
alicia - on 02 Mar 2017
In reply to planetmarshall:
Yes, and I agree it's a tough call, like I said above. One point in favor of avoiding tourism is that similar measures have worked in the past in other places. Personally I suspect the best method is a middle ground similar to what Anne Arran has done--trips that specifically address the problem (coaching female climbers) and provide contact with the outside world, rather than holiday tourism that simply avoids the problem and so in effect lends legitimacy to the situation.

But regardless of which approach is correct, many of the comments here seem to fully embrace the double standard that I was pointing out, and I think that is worth mentioning.

Editing this to add that I really appreciated you acknowledging the double standard! For people who have never been part of a group that is discriminated against it may be hard to understand, but just having acknowledgment of the discrimination is a positive step.
Post edited at 17:33
alicia - on 02 Mar 2017
In reply to planetmarshall:

> the people who, as alluded to above, may be a far cry from the way they they are portrayed abroad.

Also wanted to add, I don't think the Iranian people as a whole are portrayed particularly badly abroad, are they? I certainly haven't seen much in the media that would give me a bad impression of them. It's the government that's the issue.
abseil on 02 Mar 2017
In reply to jess13:

> ....I dont think anyone wants to plan a trip to North Korea for any sort of recreation.

I do. Waterskiing and a couple of pub crawls.
PeakDJ on 03 Mar 2017
In reply to alicia:

> Because they are, as you say, past. By travelling to the UK in 2017, you are not supporting what the UK did in, say, the 1970s. By travelling to Iran in 2017, you are supporting what Iran is doing in 2017.

And Britain currently selling illegal weapons to the Saudis so they can use them in Yemen? Hundreds of thousands of civilians have died in the Middle East in recent years as a result of our government's actions and when we have the chance or the apparent need, we will doubtless do more of the same. I'm not talking about the 1970s...there have been plenty of atrocities by UK and USA over the past decade or two. As for someone making the distinction between internal human rights and atrocities committed abroad, really? It's OK To travel to places that treat people abroad badly, but not if they treat their own citizens badly? The very people saying that this is "whataboutery" are shouting "what about human rights?" In response to an article about Iran as a climbing destination.

Not travelling to the country suggests that a country IS it's human rights record or its government. What about all the good people of that country who might benefit from some tourism and who might not agree with many of their own government's policies? What about the other aspects to the country's culture and traditions that we might learn about? Worthless?

I've lived in countries where there were vast abuses of human rights (Kuwait to name one) but that doesn't mean it wasn't a worthwhile experience for either me or some of the locals I encountered while there. I was pretty horrified to witness how women, expat domestic workers and the stateless Bidoon people are treated, but by chatting to locals I learned that many of them shared my views and were pretty disillusioned with the state of things, rather that tarring all Kuwaitis with the same brush. I'm also hopeful that some of the character education initiatives I was involved with might have had a positive impact so that there are less abuses of basic human rights in the future. The money I spent while there probably benefited the small, local businesses I visited more than it did the Kuwaiti govt. just a shame Kuwait has no decent climbing!!! ;).

2
Simon Caldwell - on 03 Mar 2017
In reply to UKC Articles:

Out of interest - would those who are fine with visiting Iran now, have been equally fine with visiting South Africa in the 1980s?
Mike Hutton - on 03 Mar 2017
In reply to UKC Articles:
I think people need to be made aware of the following before they visit.
This is a fact.
I am surprised this hasn't been mentioned in the article

If you visit Iran you will not be allowed to enter the USA with an ESTA. You will be required to fill out a very large Visas application form and arrange an interview at the US embassy in London plus pay $150.
This process can take 6 weeks and they will hold your passport after the interview till your visa stamp is added.
I am saying this as I have so far 3 friends who lost all there flight money because they weren't allowed on the plane.
There is no problem if you plan in advance though.
Post edited at 10:00
Mike Hutton - on 03 Mar 2017
In reply to Stefan Jacobsen:

Be aware you now cant enter the USA with your ESTA . See my comments about getting US visa
abseil on 03 Mar 2017
In reply to Simon Caldwell:

Places we mustn't go:

France - head choppers
Germany - started WW2
Holland - drowned lots of moles
Belgium - ruined the Congo
USA - won/ savaged the West
China - nuff said
Thailand - yooman rights
Pakistan - ditto
India - ditto
Spain - civil war atrocities
Italy - Axis Power
Australia - genocide

Anyone been to any of these places? Don't go again
3
Offwidth - on 03 Mar 2017
In reply to Simon Caldwell:

I don't see how anyone advocating the wider benefits of 'off-piste' travel could. I tend to fall on the side of such travel being a benefit even where regimes are bad and boycotts to be more suitable for official or standard protected resort tourist holiday stuff (like the all inclusive things where I'm guessing the only locals you meet are making beds, serving food and drinks or doing cute cultural things).
Mike Hutton - on 03 Mar 2017
In reply to Stefan Jacobsen:

I think people need to be made aware of the following before they visit.
This is a fact.
I am surprised this hasn't been mentioned in the article

If you visit Iran you will not be allowed to enter the USA with an ESTA. You will be required to fill out a very large Visas application form and arrange an interview at the US embassy in London plus pay $150.
This process can take 6 weeks and they will hold your passport after the interview till your visa stamp is added.
I am saying this as I have so far 3 friends who lost all there flight money because they weren't allowed on the plane.
There is no problem if you plan in advance though.
Mike Hutton - on 03 Mar 2017
In reply to Stuart en Écosse:

I think people need to be made aware of the following before they visit.
This is a fact.
I am surprised this hasn't been mentioned in the article

If you visit Iran you will not be allowed to enter the USA with an ESTA. You will be required to fill out a very large Visas application form and arrange an interview at the US embassy in London plus pay $150.
This process can take 6 weeks and they will hold your passport after the interview till your visa stamp is added.
I am saying this as I have so far 3 friends who lost all there flight money because they weren't allowed on the plane.
There is no problem if you plan in advance though.
Simon Caldwell - on 03 Mar 2017
In reply to Offwidth:

I'd agree. Was just interested to see what others thought
planetmarshall on 03 Mar 2017
In reply to PeakDJ:

> ...I was pretty horrified to witness how women, expat domestic workers and the stateless Bidoon people are treated, but by chatting to locals I learned that many of them shared my views and were pretty disillusioned with the state of things, rather that tarring all Kuwaitis with the same brush.

Im assuming not here, but did you fall into any of those groups who were being discriminated against? Similarly, I would expect the experience of a black person visiting SA in the 80s to be very different from that of a white person, and any article promoting tourism to Apartheid South Africa to make its readers aware of that fact.

What can a female climber expect should she follow this article's advice and go to Iran? If she can expect her freedoms to be curtailed, and her experience to be radically different to that of a man, then I think the article has a responsibility to make that clear.

I think Iran sounds fantastic, but should I go very few of the following issues are going to affect my visit.

https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/iran/local-laws-and-customs

neilh - on 03 Mar 2017
In reply to Mike Hutton:

There have been some posts about this, as I consider it an issue.

100% agree with you comments , it should be highlighted in the article.

People need to be aware.
ads.ukclimbing.com
PeakDJ on 03 Mar 2017
In reply to planetmarshall:

I think if someone hops on a plane to Iran encouraged by this article, and isn't aware of the different attitudes towards women in countries like Iran, then they've got more to worry about than having to cover their hair, elbows and knees in public. Regardless whether the article points out the issues, I reckon most people are aware anyway...
alicia - on 03 Mar 2017
In reply to PeakDJ:

We've already been through a lot of these points in this thread--see my last few posts--but just briefly:

> And Britain currently selling illegal weapons to the Saudis so they can use them in Yemen? Hundreds of thousands of civilians have died in the Middle East in recent years as a result of our government's actions and when we have the chance or the apparent need, we will doubtless do more of the same. I'm not talking about the 1970s...there have been plenty of atrocities by UK and USA over the past decade or two. As for someone making the distinction between internal human rights and atrocities committed abroad, really? It's OK To travel to places that treat people abroad badly, but not if they treat their own citizens badly?

When I mentioned the 1970s, I was replying to your previous post, which specifically referred to "past" atrocities.

As far as domestic v. foreign policies, sure, either could be a reason for a travel boycott. It's not a choice of one or the other like you're making it out to be. The only point I have been making here is that wherever you draw the line between what is worth a travel boycott and what is not, Iran falls on the wrong side of the line due to its treatment of women as subhuman (and arguably for other reasons as well). You can argue separately about whether or not the UK's foreign policy also makes the UK on the wrong side of the line--personally, I would argue not, but it would take several paragraphs! For me the line needs to be drawn at the very extreme end of the spectrum, to err on the side of more travel rather than less.

>The very people saying that this is "whataboutery" are shouting "what about human rights?" In response to an article about Iran as a climbing destination.Not travelling to the country suggests that a country IS it's human rights record or its government. What about all the good people of that country who might benefit from some tourism and who might not agree with many of their own government's policies? What about the other aspects to the country's culture and traditions that we might learn about? Worthless?

We were just talking about this in the last few posts before yours. It's a tough call. There's no suggestion that it's "worthless" to travel to Iran, only that the harm (supporting the current state of affairs) outweighs the benefits.

>I've lived in countries where there were vast abuses of human rights (Kuwait to name one) but that doesn't mean it wasn't a worthwhile experience for either me or some of the locals I encountered while there. I was pretty horrified to witness how women, expat domestic workers and the stateless Bidoon people are treated, but by chatting to locals I learned that many of them shared my views and were pretty disillusioned with the state of things, rather that tarring all Kuwaitis with the same brush.

Again, like I said above, it's nothing to do with the Iranian people. It's to do with the government.

>I'm also hopeful that some of the character education initiatives I was involved with might have had a positive impact so that there are less abuses of basic human rights in the future. The money I spent while there probably benefited the small, local businesses I visited more than it did the Kuwaiti govt. just a shame Kuwait has no decent climbing!!! ;).

There are going to be some complicated economics behind the pros and cons of a travel boycott. There is some evidence that one can work, though.
alicia - on 03 Mar 2017
In reply to PeakDJ:

> the different attitudes towards women

Well that's certainly one way of putting it...

Did you read my example above about the hypothetical country with various laws against black people? Can you imagine ever calling racism "different attitudes towards black people"? Having to cover your hair, elbows, and knees in public is not the problem.
planetmarshall on 03 Mar 2017
In reply to PeakDJ:

> I think if someone hops on a plane to Iran encouraged by this article, and isn't aware of the different attitudes towards women in countries like Iran, then they've got more to worry about than having to cover their hair, elbows and knees in public.

That's a pretty flippant response. Iranian attitudes to women are a bit more serious than 'Covering their hair, elbows and knees in public.', as I'm sure you know.



seankenny - on 03 Mar 2017
In reply to alicia:
> You mean by travelling somewhere you're explictly supporting the state that is in control in that place? So when I went to South Sudan I was somehow supporting a government who uses famine as a weapon of war? Or when I went to the US I was somehow supporting the death penalty?

> Yes, to a degree. You are saying that you don't find the state's policies to be so far beyond the bounds of what is morally acceptable that it would justify not going to that state.

Hmmmm, really? Let's just think this through a moment. I went to South Sudan, for example, to do a contract for a humanitarian organsation. My only reason for being there was to play a (very tiny) role in the alleviation of the near-famine situation that was evolving, and to lobby the government and others to prevent this. Yet by your logic, my very presence there was actually supporting the government in doing those things which I was supposed to be working against.

I'm not sure that makes any sense.

More broadly, I generally don't consider the behaviour of a state a bar to going there. I mean, I'd visit North Korea for sure. Why not? It's a truly vile police state, of course, but that's the point. Many millions of human beings have lived in one of those and - to me - it's worthwhile seeing what one looks like up close, especially as I don't think we'll see many of those mid-20th century type regimes again. You may of course say this would be not far off gawping at an accident on the motorway as you drive past, simply getting kicks off the suffering of others, to which I'd counter that you probably want information to come out of somewhere like North Korea - and are you saying that only an elite (journalists, diplomats, etc) can and should be the purveyors of information about the outside world?

I think the key question is complicity. Are your actions aiming to be neutral, or even improving (tho I doubt there's much that we as outsiders can really do). There's a world of difference between say, visiting a country and schmoozing some government officials so that your firm gets a contract to build a massive dam, compared with visiting the same country to record the culture of the villages about to be destroyed by the aforementioned dam.

And to me this is where the difference between aparteid SA and Iran lies. Apartheid gave white South Africans a pretty nice lifestyle and if you were a white visitor you probably got to enjoy a slice of that particular pie. Reading journalist and surfer William Finnegan's excellent memoir Barbarian Days made me think that perhaps it was possible to visit apartheid SA and not be supporting apartheid, which made me rethink how you might approach such a problem. But I think it would have been hard to escape the world of privilege built on oppression, because you can still get a sense of it now. I went climbing for a weekend in Waterval Boven and the place I stayed in had black servants and a white owner who was hospitality personified - but wanted to talk about Enoch Powell. It was uncomfy and weird and that was over 20 years after the end of apartheid.

But in Iran, I never felt as a foreigner that I was complicit with the terrible laws and discrimination which you write about. You're not in a legal dispute, or getting married, or hanging out with the Revolutionary Guards. In fact to ordinary Iranians, talking to you the visitor is a little bit subversive, a little bit transgressive, an opportunity for them to tell their own truth about their home - and to help you see and enjoy the things about their lives and their world that they value.


> The only point I have been making here is that wherever you draw the line between what is worth a travel boycott and what is not, Iran falls on the wrong side of the line due to its treatment of women as subhuman (and arguably for other reasons as well).

So here's a thing. The other day a woman asked me for directions, we got chatting and it turned out my guess was correct - she was Iranian. I told her I'd visited the country and her face lit up. Where had I been, what did I think of it? Pretty much every time I've spoken to an Iranian person (I live in west London, there are plenty of them around here) about visiting Iran I've had a similar reaction. I can't see any great hunger for a travel boycott from the very people you're trying to help, which seems to me almost the definition of a kind of well-meaning but unwanted approach.

I thought this article was good:

https://www.theguardian.com/travel/2016/apr/19/exploring-iran-travels-facebook-instagram-couchsurfin...

I mean, I may be wrong in everything I've said and a travel boycott is the only right thing to do. But you can join the "See You in Iran" Facebook page which is mentioned in this article and ask some Iranians yourself.
Post edited at 15:20
1
alicia - on 03 Mar 2017
In reply to seankenny:

> Hmmmm, really? Let's just think this through a moment.

Yes, I clearly haven't given this any thought. You'll have to forgive me though, as I'm only a woman.

>>I went to South Sudan, for example, to do a contract for a humanitarian organsation. My only reason for being there was to play a (very tiny) role in the alleviation of the near-famine situation that was evolving, and to lobby the government and others to prevent this. Yet by your logic, my very presence there was actually supporting the government in doing those things which I was supposed to be working against.

Alas, you only quoted part of my post. The part which you omitted, as well as at least one additional post of mine, pointed out that there is a difference between having a holiday somewhere and going there in an attempt to actually fix a problem. Let's not kid ourselves, going somewhere simply to go climbing is just having a holiday.

When you visit Iran as a male, you ARE receiving the benefit of the discrimination against women, whether you want that benefit or not. In rare cases this may be directly at a woman's expense--what if you do get into legal trouble while there? your word will be worth more in court than a woman's--but more relevantly, in most cases the benefit will be more indirect, such as being able to enjoy your trip without having to balance the good parts of the trip against the curtailment of your rights. That in turn allows you to write articles such as the one here, which ignores the situation that women face and thus perpetuates the notion that all is reasonably well.

The thing with boycotts is that generally the people on the receiving end of the boycott aren't going to support it. Instead, the goal, as I assume you know, is to force a beneficial/necessary change to happen more quickly than it would otherwise.
2
seankenny - on 03 Mar 2017
In reply to alicia:

> Yes, I clearly haven't given this any thought. You'll have to forgive me though, as I'm only a woman.

This is nothing to do with your gender and everything to do with what you wrote. I specifically brought up the South Sudan example because you can't actually go there as a tourist, only to work, and because it's an absolutely terrible place that makes Iran look like a pleasure garden. Nevertheless, you were insistent on visiting there being a signal that you support rape and starvation as weapons of war. I think that's quite a leap to make, and I'd think the argument was poor - or at least un-nuanced - whoever was making it.

> Alas, you only quoted part of my post. The part which you omitted, as well as at least one additional post of mine, pointed out that there is a difference between having a holiday somewhere and going there in an attempt to actually fix a problem. Let's not kid ourselves, going somewhere simply to go climbing is just having a holiday.

Fair enough. I did however go into some depth about this in my post, and the fact that there may not be such a big difference between going on holiday and working there as you may think. I'd put them on a spectrum rather than being two different categories.


> When you visit Iran as a male, you ARE receiving the benefit of the discrimination against women, whether you want that benefit or not. In rare cases this may be directly at a woman's expense--what if you do get into legal trouble while there? your word will be worth more in court than a woman's

Imagine you went on a yoga retreat to India. Dazed after all that bending in the heat, you drive your car into town and promptly run over one of the local untouchables. I am almost certain that as a wealthy white foreigner your word will be worth more in court than someone at the bottom of the caste heirarchy. (As I said before, by custom as much as by the letter of the law.) You'll benefit for sure. Does that mean you wouldn't go to India? Or that you feel that UKC should stop writing articles about climbing in India?


> --but more relevantly, in most cases the benefit will be more indirect, such as being able to enjoy your trip without having to balance the good parts of the trip against the curtailment of your rights. That in turn allows you to write articles such as the one here, which ignores the situation that women face and thus perpetuates the notion that all is reasonably well.

But no one is saying the situation is reasonably well. In fact, I've used words like abomination to describe many of the laws in Iran. The article I linked too mentioned getting lashed for drinking, amongst other horrendous laws. Yes, it was by a man, but the one I found on Iran by a woman mentioned no such thing.

I did however say that I thought the situation for women in Iran was better than in other countries, an opinion I've formed by reading, talking to people and actually visiting some of these places. Of course women have a harder time travelling in somewhere like Iran (women have a harder time getting safely home from nightclubs here) and yes, that is an advantage of being a man that I can't ignore. But nevertheless one which is not unique to this one particular country. It's almost implicit travelling to any poor country, and as I suggested above, it's an advantage that you will share too if you leave the developed world. Put it this way, if my better half went on holiday alone to Iran I'd be fairly sanguine. If she went to SA I'd be shitting myself.

>The thing with boycotts is that generally the people on the receiving end of the boycott aren't going to support it.

I'm fairly certain the anti-apartheid movement in SA supported sanctions of varying sorts. However I've never heard of Iranians saying the same thing. I may be wrong, of course. But your attitude does rather comes across as "the Europeans know best" and that those Middle Easterners should just accept that you know the right way to change their country.

> Instead, the goal, as I assume you know, is to force a beneficial/necessary change to happen more quickly than it would otherwise.

The problem seems to be that some Iranians would like to build links with the outside world and those Iranians also seem to be the ones that would like change to come to their country. Perhaps they believe this will make change happen quicker, or perhaps they just believe it will improve their quality of life in the short term. I'm not entirely sure it matters either way.
1
winhill - on 03 Mar 2017
In reply to seankenny:

> It's rather that if I made this the criteria on where to travel, I'd probably never leave western Europe.

So what?

If, ethically and environmentally it's better that you don't go, why would you go?
1
alicia - on 03 Mar 2017
In reply to seankenny:

Sorry, it's just that my patience was wearing a bit thin after you edited my post to remove reference to an issue, and then attempted to cite my supposed lack of reference to that issue as support for your view that I hadn't thought the issue through properly.

Adding an even more ridiculous dimension to your post is that if you had bothered to read what I actually wrote about the issue--that I personally suspect the best approach is a sort of middle ground that is not holiday tourism but also not a total travel ban--you might have noticed that I agree with you!

Your example about India is nothing more than the generic "wealthy foreigner has an easier time in the justice system" issue that is common throughout the world.

>>But your attitude does rather comes across as "the Europeans know best" and that those Middle Easterners should just accept that you know the right way to change their country.

Do you really want to attempt to argue that people of one country should never propose methods of effecting change in another county?? By that logic, I could tell you that your attitude does rather come across as "we men know best how to improve the situation for women"...

You still haven't answered my question about the hypothetical country with the various racist laws and whether or not you would travel there. Actually, I don't really want an answer--my request would be that if you are willing to do one easy task today to combat sexism, give that question a long, hard think and ask yourself truthfully whether you really would travel to a country with such racist laws. And if the answer is no, ask yourself why you're willing to travel to Iran and what that says about sexism in even a modern, progressive society.

1
seankenny - on 03 Mar 2017
In reply to alicia:

> Your example about India is nothing more than the generic "wealthy foreigner has an easier time in the justice system" issue that is common throughout the world.

Sure. But your point is that Iran is some kind of outlier, which I don't believe is true. "Whatever the line you draw, Iran is on the wrong side of it." Well, draw that line with any consistency and an awful lot of countries are on the wrong side of it.

>>But your attitude does rather comes across as "the Europeans know best" and that those Middle Easterners should just accept that you know the right way to change their country. Do you really want to attempt to argue that people of one country should never propose methods of effecting change in another county?? By that logic, I could tell you that your attitude does rather come across as "we men know best how to improve the situation for women"...

Clearly not. However, you have specifically proposed a course of action for Iran that goes against what everyone from that country I've ever met would like. And which I've never heard an advocacy group propose (again, I might be wrong on that). Given that your suggested solution goes against what people themselves want, might it be time for a rethink?

As it happes, I certainly don't have enough knowledge about Iranian society and culture to suggest what would work to improve the lot of all Iranians. But I suspect listening to them might be a first step...

> You still haven't answered my question about the hypothetical country with the various racist laws and whether or not you would travel there. Actually, I don't really want an answer--my request would be that if you are willing to do one easy task today to combat sexism, give that question a long, hard think and ask yourself truthfully whether you really would travel to a country with such racist laws. And if the answer is no, ask yourself why you're willing to travel to Iran and what that says about sexism in even a modern, progressive society.

The problem is, I've already answered your question, not as a hypothetical country, but about actual real ones. I've been to places where people kill each other for being the members of the wrong tribe, places where the state has murdered civilians of a different ethnic group, places where people are banned from religious sites due to racism and places where members of one race do all in their power to stop the other race from voting. Some of these places are amongst my very favourite places to go and I've been making repeated visits for years...
1
alicia - on 03 Mar 2017
In reply to seankenny:

> The problem is, I've already answered your question, not as a hypothetical country, but about actual real ones. I've been to places where people kill each other for being the members of the wrong tribe, places where the state has murdered civilians of a different ethnic group, places where people are banned from religious sites due to racism and places where members of one race do all in their power to stop the other race from voting. Some of these places are amongst my very favourite places to go and I've been making repeated visits for years...

I'm just going to reply to this quickly as I think it's the most important part. What you are describing as "answering my question" is not answering my question. I want you to think of your answer when the laws at issue are the exact, specific laws I mentioned in my hypothetical. They present a very different situation than what you are describing, a situation where racism does not simply happen but rather happens with the full support of the law--not a lack of enforcement of the law and not through illegal criminal activity. Considering the question exactly as I asked it will only take you a few minutes--what have you got to lose?
1
alicia - on 03 Mar 2017
In reply to seankenny:

> Sure. But your point is that Iran is some kind of outlier, which I don't believe is true. "Whatever the line you draw, Iran is on the wrong side of it." Well, draw that line with any consistency and an awful lot of countries are on the wrong side of it.

This point deserves a quick reply as well. I would propose that the reason Iran is an outlier is because it specifically and explicitly denies equal legal status to a segment of its population. I can't think of many places that fall into that category--Israel and Saudi Arabia are the only other two that spring to mind, though there could well be more. That denigration of a group of people, the bald statement that they are worth less than other humans, is something uniquely terrible.
seankenny - on 03 Mar 2017
In reply to alicia:

> I'm just going to reply to this quickly as I think it's the most important part. What you are describing as "answering my question" is not answering my question. I want you to think of your answer when the laws at issue are the exact, specific laws I mentioned in my hypothetical. They present a very different situation than what you are describing, a situation where racism does not simply happen but rather happens with the full support of the law--not a lack of enforcement of the law and not through illegal criminal activity. Considering the question exactly as I asked it will only take you a few minutes--what have you got to lose?

Clearly, I'd go. I'm not a hypocrite, and of course you didn't specify the capacity in which I'd be there (as per my argument about the Finnegan book above). But then I think you're making a series of false distinctions in terms of how they play out in people's lives, as I've tried to explain many times. "Full support of the law" clearly means little if the law is ignored most of the time, and "against the law" doesn't mean so much when enforcement is slack or so institutionally biased that the law is virtually non-existent. But we are moving out of the world of hypotheticals and into the real world, which is much messier. Which is kind of my point.
1
seankenny - on 03 Mar 2017
In reply to alicia:

> This point deserves a quick reply as well. I would propose that the reason Iran is an outlier is because it specifically and explicitly denies equal legal status to a segment of its population. I can't think of many places that fall into that category--Israel and Saudi Arabia are the only other two that spring to mind, though there could well be more. That denigration of a group of people, the bald statement that they are worth less than other humans, is something uniquely terrible.

Hmmm, well, maybe. I'm afraid there are very very few things I see as uniquely terrible, mostly because they are not that dissimilar from other terrible things. As per Toby's post about Iran viz-a-viz other parts of the Middle East. And your insistence upon the primacy of written law is fundamentally far too narrow for anything but hypotheticals (FGM in the UK comes to mind).

None of this is to defend the Iranian government, of course. But I'm getting a rather high-handed vibe that rather plays down many other places in the world, ones in which it is actually way worse to be a woman.
1
nb - on 03 Mar 2017
In reply to alicia:

Sexism has many faces. Would you be happy to visit a country where women's bodies are routinely used to sell commodities? Where unrealistic images are diffused all day long showing women what men would like them to look like? Where women earn less than men for doing the same job? Where suicide is the second biggest killer of young men? Where rape and consent are routinely confused?

These things are not imposed by laws. They represent the fundamental nature of this society. Would you visit this place?
1
alicia - on 03 Mar 2017
In reply to nb:

Those things are all terrible, but that doesn't mean they justify not visiting that place. Just one or two posts up the thread I explained what I believe makes Iran (and a couple of other places in the world) so uniquely unjust that tourism there may be morally unacceptable.
seankenny - on 03 Mar 2017
In reply to alicia:

To be fair, using such absolutist moral terms would probably fit quite comfortably in Qom.
2
nb - on 03 Mar 2017
In reply to alicia:

> tourism there may be morally unacceptable.

Buying oil from Saudi Arabia may be morally unacceptable, selling arms to Saudi Arabia certainly is - but visiting Iran?

I lived in Northern Ireland as a kid in the 70s, and I can tell you that segregation is the worst way of dealing with moral differences. I was talking to a journalist this morning who agrees. He's worked a lot in Palestine and is much more pessimistic about the situation today than he was 15 years ago, because he says the two populations are mixing less and less. People from both sides only ever have contact with each other at checkpoints now, whereas before there was commerce and trading between individuals. So their sense of identity and mutual distrust just deepens.

Why would you want to auto-segregate yourself from Iranians? I recommend you go there.
nb - on 03 Mar 2017
In reply to alicia:

> Iran (and a couple of other places in the world)

Fraid you're going to have to add a whole load more countries onto that list!

PeakDJ on 04 Mar 2017
In reply to alicia:

> Well that's certainly one way of putting it...Did you read my example above about the hypothetical country with various laws against black people? Can you imagine ever calling racism "different attitudes towards black people"? Having to cover your hair, elbows, and knees in public is not the problem.

For a visiting foreigner that's one of the major things they're going to have to do in order to not get into trouble. I wasn't suggesting that this is all the local women have to put up with!
1
PeakDJ on 04 Mar 2017
In reply to alicia:
> ...like I said above, it's nothing to do with the Iranian people. It's to do with the government.

It's got everything to do with the Iranian people, surely. If you're concerned about their basic rights then surely allowing more contact with foreigners from different cultures is preferable.

Stating on the one hand that you'd like to take action to improve human rights, then on the other hand suggesting measures that would isolate the Iranian people doesn't seem to work too well for me. This is especially true when many Iranians would agree (privately!) with the fact that their government has some ridiculous policies regarding women's rights and many other things. As Sean points out above though, I also think you're making suggestions that go against what the majority of Iranian people would want...which surely can't be a good thing.

As for the original article, this whole discussion stems from suggesting that it is somehow amiss that the human rights situation wasn't mentioned. Let's say a few climbers go out to Iran based purely on reading this article and with no knowledge of the human rights situation (unlikely in my view). They arrive, pretty quickly realise they need to cover in public, then witness some other things that would be very hard to accept back at home. They either end up having a good time on their trip, or not. They might go back to Iran, or not. It's all a very personal choice that will be influenced by a person's interpretation of the media reports on Iran and their own personal views/background. For the uninformed traveller, I would say they'd learn something that might result in them coming home with a better understanding of Iran and its people, plus their own country and its culture. I'll bow out of the discussion as I don't have time to read all the previous posts right now and I'll probably never be in favour of isolationist strategies like travel boycotts. Im more in favour of action that actually benefits the people and gives them what they want....and I'm not convinced a travel boycott does that in this case.
Post edited at 00:45
1
PeakDJ on 04 Mar 2017
In reply to alicia:

Before I go, here's another take on "rights..."

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m9-R8T1SuG4
1
earlsdonwhu - on 04 Mar 2017
In reply to UKC Articles:

Andrew,

You mention iranclimbingguide.com in the article. I have been in touch with them about a ski touring trip next year.... have you had specific dealings with them and can you recommend them for sorting logistics and guiding? Feel free to mail me personally. Thanks.
Stefan Jacobsen - on 07 Mar 2017
In reply to earlsdonwhu:

It was iranclimbingguide.com who organised our trip. Transport, accommodation and guiding all to our satisfaction. We had two guides, one of each gender, and they were very competent, safe and English speaking (and fun).
You are welcome to contact me if you need more information.

This topic has been archived, and won't accept reply postings.