Summary of Today's BroadcastRFE/RL Persian ServiceWednesday, May 1, 2002
- Leader rejects talks with the US
- Labor Day: Iranian workers demand pay and job security
- Axis of evil speech prompts Iran's move to national unity
- Political activists in Europe condemn regime's Middle East policy
- Decline in newspaper readership
- Labor law and the economy
- A review of labor issues
- Teachers are banned from marching on Teachers Day
Leader Rejects Talks with the US
* As the regime's two factions fight over controlling potential US-Iranian negotiations, the Leader of the Islamic Republic says only the US would benefit from such talks. He said some newspapers are publishing material that is against national interests and Islamic values, taking advantage of the open political atmosphere in the country. The last time he attacked the press, more than fifty pro-reform papers were subsequently closed down. (Siavash Ardalan)
Labor Day Special: Iranian Workers Demand Pay and Job Security
* During a Labor Day gathering in Tehran, labor reps attack the privatization process as the main cause of widespread unemployment. Behruz Qezelbash, a reporter of the Tehran newspaper "Kar va Kargar" (Labor and Laborers) tells RFE/RL that workers protest the government's privatization methods through which individuals take control of factories, fire the workers and sell the assets. He says transferring shares to workers would be a better method of privatization. Workers expect the early retirement law, passed last year in the Majles, to take effect this year, he notes. They also look forward to signing agreements with factory owners on job security. (Siavash Ardalan)
National Unity: Financial Times Reports on Factional Conflict
* In a report from Tehran, Guy Dinmore of the Financial Times writes that the implicit threat in Bush's Axis of Evil speech has prompted a move towards national unity in Iran. (Alireza Taheri)
Political Activists Condemn Regime's Policy on the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict
* Political opponents of the Islamic Republic in Europe sign a statement condemning the regime's support for extremist Palestinian groups. Berlin-based political activist Mehdi Khanbaba Tehrani, who drafted the statement, tells RFE/RL that Iran's national interest requires the Islamic Republic to recognize Israel and end its support for the radical call for the destruction of Israel. Efat Mahbaz, an activist in Berlin, tells RFE/RL that Iran can influence the peace process in the Middle East by supporting Arafat, who has been successful in showing the predicament of Palestinians to the world. Iran's support of Hamas and Hezbollah prolongs the war, she adds. Berlin-based political analyst Mashallah Ajudani tells RFE/RL that the Islamic Republic's position on the Palestinian issue is unrealistic, hostile and against the long-term interests of Palestinian people. (Shireen Famili)
Press Festival: Decline in Newspaper Readership
* The press festival returns to Tehran's international book fair after a two-year absence. Now that several semi-reformist new newspapers have replaced some of the closed papers, journalists agreed to resume the press festival, says veteran newspaper editor Mashallah Shamsolvaezin, who, before being jailed, saw the closing of four of his newspapers in less than two years. In an interview from a booth at the press festival, Shamsolvaezin tells RFE/RL that the systematic closing of more than 50 newspapers by the judiciary has eroded people's confidence in the freedom of existing newspapers. Fearing legal action, journalists themselves resort to self-censorship and lose readers. Those fears are for a reason, he adds, pointing to the arrests and trials of several journalists during the past few days. (Mehdi Khalaji)
Labor Day Special: Labor Law and the Economy
* Labor activists demand more pay and the closing of labor law loopholes that allow the indefinite hiring of temporary workers. Defending job security is of course important, but more important is lifting barriers to domestic and foreign investment, which would provide jobs for millions. (Fereydoun Khavand, Paris)
Labor Day Special: A Review of Labor Issues
Iranian workers celebrating Labor Day leave behind a year marked with active demonstrations in demand for better pay and improved working conditions. The strikes and street protests by workers at textile factories Chit-e Karaj and Chit-e Ray, and at the Shayanpur shoe factory are the most recent examples. To mark Labor Day, RFE/RL asks former labor activists, political analysts and labor organizers in Iran and abroad about work conditions and issues faced by workers in Iran.
* Vahid Hamidi, of the Tehran Islamic workers council, blames workers' problems on the privatization of state-owned enterprises, which has workers worried about job security. He says Iranian workers can organize themselves in Islamic councils, which are independent and democratic, and not subservient to the regime.
* Sadeq Kargar, a former labor activist, says Islamic councils are not independent, but obedient, official organizations. He adds Khatami's election did not result in the formation of true civil institutions, such as independent workers unions.
* Hasan Sadeqi, head of the national association of the Islamic workers councils, says the arrest of 430 members of the councils during last year alone shows that the councils are not submissive and do fight for workers' rights. He says the virtual human resource contracting companies set up within state-owned and private factories have pushed wages down and offer no benefits and no job security. Workers demand the right to strike and closing of the loophole in the labor law that permits indefinite hiring of temporary help, he adds.
* A Paris-based political activist says workers have moved away from revolutionary action. To achieve their goals they have joined the Iranian middle class in demanding freedoms and political development.
* Political science professor Said Rahnama, of Canada's York University, says worker-employer relations have not changed, but the nature of the work has-dividing the working class into many different economic sectors. (Fereydoun Zarnegar)
Regime Bans Teachers' Day Parade
* Rahman Shams, vice president of Tehran's House of Teachers, tells RFE/RL that his organization's application for holding a march on Teachers Day (May 2nd) was rejected two months ago, along with the application of another teachers' organization, Society of Tehran Teachers. He finds it strange that yesterday the deputy governor of Tehran announced that no application has been received for Teachers Day demonstrations. He says teachers are bored with the official Teachers Day celebrations held at schools, adding that teachers demand better pay and a say in appointing school headmasters and education district directors to ensure that qualified people assume these positions. He says Teachers Day demonstrations were planned because promises made to teachers after their four-day demonstrations last winter were not met.
* Israel refuses to cooperate with the UN fact-finding mission to Jenin. (Jamshid Chalangi, Cairo)
* Vatican sends an envoy to Bethlehem to observe the standoff at the Nativity church. (Ahmad Ra'fat, Rome)
* French leftists turn today's Labor Day demonstrations into a march against the racist positions of the Jean-Marie Le Pen, says Paris-based political activist Ali Keshtgar. He tells RFE/RL that this year ten times more people are in the streets, turning Labor Day into a protest against a neo-fascism emerging in reaction to pervasive joblessness and the inability of the French socialist government to deliver promises. Abdolkarim Lahiji, vice president of the international federation of human rights organizations, tells RFE/RL that his organization takes part in today's demonstration to protest Le Pen's discriminatory positions. (Jean Khakzad, Paris)
* Workers unions demonstrate in Germany on Labor Day. (Shahram Mirian, Cologne)
* Hasan Khotak, secretary of Pakistan's human rights commission, says today's referendum on General Pervez Musharraf's presidency was flawed and adds nothing to his legitimacy, in spite of the government's assertion that 98 percent of the voters approved Musharraf remaining in office for the next five years. He tells RFE/RL that one person could vote many times and by the end of the day, election workers stuffed the ballot boxes. The absence of political parties, banned by Musharraf, creates a void that can only be filled by extremists. Agha-Morteza Puya, deputy secretary of Musharraf-supporter Jamiat Tahrik Avam (People Mobilization Party) says in the five months left to parliamentary elections political groupings would change and those who oppose Musharraf now might end up supporting him and vise versa. He says all political parties in Pakistan welcomed former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif's removal by Musharraf. (Siavash Ardalan)
* Hundreds of allied forces begin new operations in eastern Afghanistan against al-Qaeda and Taliban elements. (Golnaz Esfandiari, Kabul)
* Russian analysts say the three-way security pact among Georgia, Turkey and Azerbaijan would not work without cooperation from other countries in the region. (Mani Kasravi, Moscow)
* Iraq's foreign minister meets UNSG Anan in New York on resuming the mission of the UN weapons inspectors. However, analysts in Cairo doubt that success of the talks. (Farideh Rahbar, Cairo)
ARTS AND IDEAS
Weekly Science Magazine
* Dr. Duane Kraemer, of Texas A&M University, who cloned a cat last month, tells RFE/RL about the process used by Italians to impregnate three women through cloning.
* Dr. Paul Steinhardt of Princeton University introduces a new theory suggesting that space and time exist forever and that the big bang was not the beginning of time.
* Houston University researchers suggest launching satellites to transfer energy from the moon to earth. (Fatemeh Aman, Washington)
Youth, Society and Education
* Paris-based sociologist Said Peyvandi continues his weekly talk about textbook reform and comments on the events of last week's Youth Day in Iran.
در حاليكه دو جناح حاكم بر سر كنترل مذاكرات با آمريكا مجادله مي كنند، رهبر جمهوري اسلامي در سخنراني خود به مناسبت روز كارگر گفت: هرگونه مذاكره به نفع آمريكا خواهد بود. رهبر جمهوري اسلامي همچنين مطبوعاتي را كه "خلاف مصالح اسلامي و منافع كشور" مطلب مي نويسند مورد انتقاد قرار داد و گفت كه اين روزنامه ها از "فضاي باز سياسي در كشور سوء استفاده مي كنند".