Summary of Iran Stories in Today's BroadcastsBehnam NateghiTuesday, February 17, 2004
<b>US Calls on Iran and North Korea to Follow the Libyan Exmaple</b>
• US Undersecretary of State for non-proliferation John Bolton called on Iran and North Korea to follow the example of Libya and end their nuclear weapons program. (Ali Sajjadi)
<b>Nobel Peace Laureate Says She Will Not Vote in the Majles Elections</b>
• I will not vote in the Friday elections, because I don't know any of the candidates approved by the Guardians Council, Nobel peace laureate <b>Shirin Ebadi</b> tells <b>Radio Farda</b>. President Khatami was right to ask the people to turnout in force and vote for the candidates they favor, she adds. I would have voted too, if I knew any of the candidates approved to run in the Tehran electoral district, but I cannot vote for totally unknown candidates, who may or not be conservative. Ebadi, who will be in Italy on Friday, says her trip had been planned months ago, and is not a ploy to keep her out of the country on the elections day. She says the mass disqualification of more than 2,500 candidacy applicants by the Guardians Council violated Iran's commitment to the international treaty on civil rights, which recognizes the right of every citizen to participate in the political process through electing or standing in the elections, she adds. It was also in violation of the Islamic Republic's own constitution and the principles of the UN human rights treaty, she says. (Alireza Taheri)
<b>Reformist MPs Lash Out at the Supreme Leader on Election Bans</b>
• In an open letter which they took turns reading at the open session of the Majles, 130 reformists, almost half all MPs, blamed the Supreme Leader for the Guardians Council's decision to ban the reformists from standing in the February 20 Majles elections. The organs under your control, which for the past four years have demeaned the people's elected representatives by rejecting their bills, have now openly ignored the right of the people to elect or be elected, the protesting MPs said in their letter. Despite all the official public statements, it appears that the Guardians Council acted with your permission to eliminate the reformist faction, it said. Why our many intelligence and security organs have not yet found any trace of the foreign agents that you said have infiltrated the reformists' ranks, the MPs asked the Supreme Leader. A Majles whose members have been appointed by the Guardians Council can neither represent the public will, not it can defend our national interests. It will be a threat to our security and independence, the protesting MPs said. (Maryam Ahmadi)
• In the reformists' press conference today, where their letter to the Supreme Leader was the main topic, and which was attended by twice as many foreign and domestic reporters as previous press conferences of the reformist MPs, the speakers appeared angrier and more direct in their criticism, Tehran-based independent reporter <b>Arash Qavidel</b> tells <b>Radio Farda</b>. Reformist activist and journalist Isa Saharkhiz said the people's indifference is like a mountain of ice which the fire of the MPs' 26-day sit-in protest could not melt, Qavidel adds. Three factors pushed the reformist MPs to take harder positions: the people's indifference to the dispute between the regime's two factions, the flip-flop of Khatami's cabinet over resigning from office in protest against the elections bans, and the Guardians Council refusal to postpone the elections, according to Qavidel. In their letter to the Supreme Leader, the MPs challenged him to identify the bullies whom he said disrupted the elections, Tehran-based journalist <b>Rouzbeh Amir-Ebrahimi</b> tells <b>Radio Farda</b>. The MPs said the bullies were in fact the members of the Guardians Council who banned them from reelection, in violation of the law, not the MPs who protested against the bans, he adds. The MPs issued this letter only to remain in history as their legacy, because they know that their letter, as their sit-in protest and their resignations, would have no impact on the process. The letter's only impact would be the radicalization of the political atmosphere, he says, adding that it would deepen the growing rift within the reformist camp. The reformist journalists are collecting signatures for a letter to be published tomorrow in which, without using the work “boycott,” they ask the public not to participate in the elections. (Alireza Taheri)
<b>President Khatami and Majles Speaker Karrubi Call for Strong Turnout, Despite Election Bans</b>
• Despite their displeasure with the widespread bans on reformists to run in the February 20 elections, President Mohammad Khatami and Majles Speaker Mehdi Karrubi called on the people to turnout in force on Friday. The election bans raises concern that custody would replace supervision, whereas our revolution was to reject all forms of custody, foreign and domestic, Khatami said in his message. However, he added, nonparticipation in the elections would allow a minority to take control of the destiny of the country. “We must fight with all our strength to defend religious democracy,” he said, urging the people to vote against the candidates they don't want, even if their favorite candidates have been banned from running. “We consider these elections to be unfair, but have decided to take part because our participation is more productive than our absence,” said Majles speaker Mehdi Karrubi. “The rights of a lot of people have been trampled on, but this means we should reform the election law,” Karrubi added in a press conference four days before the elections. The society of reformist clerics (Majma-e Rohaniyoon Mobarez), of which the two are ranking members, has fielded candidates in the elections, parting ways with other pro-reform parties, the Participation Front (Mosharekat) and the Mojahedin of the Islamic Revolution, which announced that they would not participate in the elections. “They (Khatami and Karrubi) are more optimistic than we are,” secretary of the Participation Front, Khatami's brother Mohammad-Reza, said. (Mehdi Khalaji)
• We have related to proper officials our serious concerns about possible widespread fraud in the elections, and if no action is taken, we will expose the perpetrators, warned the 20th communiqué of the reformist MPs, who resigned from the Majles after a 26-day sit-in to protest the Guardians Council's bans on their reelection. Conservative daily Keyhan quoted deputy chief of the national registry that voters will not be required on Friday to present picture IDs at the voting booths. The communiqué lists 109 electoral districts in which it asked voters not to vote. In addition to Tehran, the largest district with 30 Majles seat, major cities such as Isfahan, Rasht, Sanandaj, Hamedan, Ahwaz and Abadan are on the list. (Bahman Bastani)
• We are expecting new pressures from the conservatives, banning the Mosharekat party can be one the expected future pressures, secretary of the Participation Front (Jebheh-ye Mosharekat) said, raising concerns that after the elections, judicial action against the MPs who boycotted the elections may be expected. It appears that the Participation Front is being forced to implement the “exit from government” plan proposed two years ago by its radical members. (Bahman Bastani)
• The Islamic student councils of universities in many provinces boycotted the Friday elections. In its statement, the Kermanshah University's Islamic student council accused the Supreme Leader of dictatorship and President Khatami of ineptitude. The Islamic student council of the welfare and social work university called the next Majles illegitimate and denounced its legislations in advance as illegal. The Amir-Kabir University's Islamic student council said in its statement that its boycott of the elections was not just to protest against the mass disqualification of the reformist candidates, but also to protest against the power structure in the Islamic Republic. (Mehdi Khalaji)
• People turned out for street protests in the Kurdistan province cities of Bukan and Marivan. The people destroyed and closed the local campaign headquarters of the election candidates, but after two days, the police reopened them, a caller to the <b>Radio Farda</b> elections hotline says. The Kurdish people protest against the Guardians Council's ban on their candidates and demand fair and democratic elections, local writer and journalist <b>Hasan Salasuran</b> tells <b>Radio Farda</b>. (Bahman Bastani)
• Instead of well-known conservative parties, such as the association of the conservative clerics (Jam'eh-ye Rowhaniat-e Mobarez) and the hard-line right-wing party United Islamic Society (Jam'iat Mo'talefeh-ye Eslami), the conservatives campaign under a multitude of new parties and coalitions, emphasizing on the youth, Western education and professionalism of their candidates. On the other hand, the reformist camp toils on, wounded, and in disarray, campaigning for a list of only 26 candidates in Tehran, and a total of 220 across the country. (Keyvan Hosseini)
• In Tehran and major cities, more between 70 percent to 80 percent of the voters will stay away from the voting booths on Friday, but in provinces, where competitions are not political but ethnic or tribal, 60 percent to 70 percent are expected to vote, Tehran University political science professor and reformist commentator <b>Sadeq Zibakalam</b> says in today's <b>RadioFarda Roundtable</b> on the elections. However, due to their dismal record of the past four years, the reformist MPs would not have been elected, even if they were allowed to run, he adds. So, in a way, we can say that the Guardians Council did the Participation Front party and its allies a service by banning them from standing in the elections, he says. Certain devices may be used to make the voter turnout appear greater than it actually would be, warns member of the central committee of the association of Islamic student councils (Daftar-e Tahkim-e Vahdat) <b>Amir Pakzad</b>. The fact that the conservatives will try unlawful means to legitimize the elections shows that they have heard the people's voice, he adds. The voter turnout in the elections will be a vote on the Supreme Leader's absolute rule, Paris-based activist and former Majles MP <b>Mehdi Salamatian</b> says. The Friday elections will be a vote on the popularity of the clerical rule, and less than 80 percent or 90 percent turnout would be a blow to the clerical regime, he adds. It would mean a “no” to the political system in which one person makes all the decisions. As such, the elections will be a security issue, and for those involved in holding the elections and counting the votes, fabricating satisfactory numbers will become a religious duty, he adds. (Amir-Mosaddegh Katouzian)
• The low turnout can be considered as a vote against the clerical rule, Washington-based activist <b>Amir-Hossein Ganjbakhsh</b> tells <b>Radio Farda</b>. (Ali Sajjadi)
• The pilot of a small airplane used in the election campaign died as his plane crashed near the Caspian Sea town of Kojour. A local candidate flying in the plane was taken to hospital. No report on the cause of crash has yet been received. (Mahdiah Javid)
<b>Conservative Theoreticians Suggest “China Example”</b>
• A number of conservative economic theoreticians believe that a mix of political oppression, economic development and reconciliation with the US and major European powers is possible to implement in Iran, a policy they believe has been successfully followed by China. A Western diplomat told Paris daily <i>Le Monde</i> that the theory discounts the huge differences between China, whose economy is flourishing and is a major untapped market, and Iran, with its stagnant economy and no other product but oil. (Fereydoun Khavand)
<b>Cost of Multiple Economic Decision Centers</b>
• The multitude of economic decision-making centers, in and out of the government, have imposed a huge cost on the country's economy, Tehran municipal government's daily organ <i>Hamshahri</i> writes, listing more than 20 institutions, councils, boards and organizations whose decisions on trade, currency, taxes, prices and wages have direct influence over the country's economy. (Fereydoun Khavand)
<b>Failure of Reform Movement Would Lead to “Velvet Revolution” - Sarkouhi</b>
• Reviewing Iran's major social and political developments in the past 100 years, Frankfurt-based writer and former magazine editor <b>Faraj Sarkouhi</b> concludes in an article for the Swiss daily <i>Neue Zurcher</i> that after the failure of the Khatami reforms, the people have opted for a “velvet revolution.” The reforms from within the regime have reached a dead-end, but the people have decided that any revolution would lead to bloodshed and dictatorship, so they are looking for a non-violent solution to change the regime, he tells <b>Radio Farda</b>. (Shahram Mirian, Cologne)
<b>Iran Has No New Nuclear Equipment, Foreign Minister Says</b>
• Foreign minister Kamal Kharrazi said Iran has not acquired new nuclear equipment, even though it has the right to pursue peaceful nuclear projects. He said Iran has the potential to produce nuclear fuel to sell internationally, but does not have any ready supply. Speaking at a press conference in Tehran, Kharrazi was elaborating on comments he had made earlier in the week about plans to market nuclear fuel. The second generation centrifuge device is a research program. We have done research in this regard, and the IAEA has been informed of this," Kharrazi said. “We try to utilize any new models in the industry,” he added. (Ali Sajjadi)
<b>ICFLU Condemns Killing and Beating Striking Copper Factory Workers</b>
• In a letter to President Khatami, the International Confederation of Free Labor Unions last week condemned the killing of four and beating of hundreds of copper factory workers by the Kerman police's special unit two weeks ago in Shahrebabak. In our letter we criticized President Khatami's unresponsiveness to the protests against the deaths of the four workers in the Khatounabad and Shahrebabak sit-in protest, the ICFLU spokesman tells <b>Radio Farda</b>. We have also complained against the Islamic government to the International Labor Organization, of which Iran is a member, she adds. We have not yet received any response from President Khatami to our letter, she says. (Jean Khakzad)
مريم احمدي (راديوفردا): گروهي از اصلاح طلبان جمهوري اسلامي که بنا به پيش بيني ها در انتخابات مجلس هفتم پيروزي نخواهند داشت، در نامه اي به رهبر جمهوري اسلامي، هشدار دادند که حذف اصلاح طلبان از انتخابات، بقاي رژيم را تهديد مي کند. هشدار درباره شکاف فزاينده بين رژيم و مردم در متن نامه سرگشاده اي آمده است که تقريبا بي سابقه است. چرا که نقش رهبر جمهوري اسلامي را در رد گسترده صلاحيت ها زير سئوال مي برد.
در اين نامه آمده است که نهادهاي تحت کنترل شما که به مدت چهار سال با رد مصوبه هاي مجلس، نمايندگان را تحقير کردند، آشکارا اساسي ترين حق مردم، يعني حق انتخاب کردن و انتخاب شدن را ناديده گرفتند. اين نامه که در مجلس پخش و خوانده شد، به امضاي نمايندگاني رسيده است که به رد صلاحيت ها اعتراض دارند.
در نامه امضاء کنندگان مي پرسند: سئوال اين است که شوراي نگهبان با کدام اطمينان، در مقابل خواست شما ايستاد؟ يا شايد چنانکه از شايعه ها بر مي آيد، و بر خلاف بيانيه هاي رسمي، اعضاي شوراي نگهبان براي پافشاري و رد گسترده و غير قانوني داوطلبان نمايندگي، از شما اجازه داشته اند.
در نامه آمده است: شوراي نگهبان براي رد صلاحيت آنها، دو سال توطئه مي کرده و از طريق سازمان هاي موازي غير رسمي، درباره نمايندگان جاسوسي مي کرده است.
امضاء کنندگان نامه خطاب به رهبر جمهوري اسلامي نوشته اند: شما مکررا به نفوذ بيگانگان در ميان اصلاح طلبان اشاره مي کنيد، اما هيچ شاهدي بر اين مدعا ديده نشده است. اين نفوذ کنندگان چگونه اند که سازمان هاي اطلاعاتي و امنيتي ما نمي توانند آنها را رديابي کنند؟ ما نگران آينده هستيم. آينده اي که در آن نظام به خاطر از دست دادن حمايت مردم، تاسف خواهد خورد و مجبور خواهد شد در مقابل حمله هاي پنهان و آشکار بيگانگان تسليم شود.
پارلماني که توسط شوراي نگهبان شکل بگيرد، و نه اراده مردم، از منافع ملي دفاع نخواهد کرد، و احتمالا تهديدي عليه امنيت و استقلال ما خواهد بود. جمعي از نمايندگان اصلاح طلب مجلس كه براي شركت در انتخابات صلاحيت آنها توسط شوراي نگهبان رد شده است، در نامه اي خطاب به رهبر جمهوري اسلامي، تلويحا او را مسئول رد صلاحيت خود و حذف جناح اصلاحات از صحنه سياسي جمهوري اسلامي معرفي كردند. آنها به رهبر جمهوري اسلامي هشدار دادند كه حذف اصلاح طلبان از انتخابات، بقاي رژيم را تهديد مي کند. در اين نامه آمده است که نهادهاي تحت کنترل رهبر جمهوري اسلامي که به مدت چهار سال با رد مصوبه هاي مجلس، نمايندگان را تحقير کردند، آشکارا اساسي ترين حق مردم، يعني حق انتخاب کردن و انتخاب شدن را ناديده گرفتند. آنها نوشتند مجلسي كه توسط شوراي نگهبان شکل بگيرد، احتمالا تهديدي عليه امنيت و استقلال كشور خواهد بود.