Summary of Iran Stories in Today's BroadcastsBehnam NateghiFriday, February 20, 2004
<b>RadioFarda's Elections Coverage</b>
• To cover today's Majles elections, <b>Radio Farda</b> extended its news programming and aired interviews with independent journalists, eyewitnesses and commentators. Residents in Tehran and other cities, including Rasht, Gorgan, Tabriz, Isfahan, Shiraz, Jahrom, Sannadaj, Marivan, Bukan, Rasht, Kerman, Sabzevar, Khoramabad, Masjed Soleyman, Kashan, Karaj and many more, provided eyewitness accounts on the voter turnout, which was reportedly low in the early hours, but gradually increased in the the afternoon and early evening. Selections from hundreds of audio messages left by listeners on the radio's elections' hotline was also aired throughout the day, mostly criticizing the Guardians Council for banning reformists from the elections, or calling for the boycott of the elections. Those reached by <b>Radio Farda</b> reporters in Tehran and other cities and most callers to our hotline condemned today's elections as fake, undemocratic, unfair and un-free, urging the people not to vote.
• A Bukan resident tells <b>Radio Farda</b> the state TV monopoly bused in a group of people to stage and film a crowded scene at a voting booth near where he and his friends were gathered to count the voters. Several other residents from various cities say in the voting centers they visited the number of guards, police, election supervision officials and other government personnel was greater than the voters. However, in several cities, including Sabzevar and Kashan, those reached by <b>Radio Farda</b> report strong turnout. In Kashan, Karaj and several other cities, eyewitnesses said people turned out to vote in order to avoid potential trouble at their jobs or in their schools.
• By the afternoon, Tehran-based independent reporter <b>Arash Qavidel</b> says crowds began to gather at the Hosseinieh Ershad mosque voting center in the northern part of the city, and the urnout continued to increase in the early hours of the evening until 9 PM.
• Several people reached by our reporters in the Kurdistan province cities says only the government employees and the armed forces' personnel appeared to be voting. A Tabriz voter says soldiers at an army barracks where his brother serves were told to turn in their ID cards so that ballots could be filled in their names.
• In Khatunabad, of the Kerman province, the scene of bloody labor protests in which the special police forces killed four demonstrators and wounded 150 last month, a resident tells <b>Radio Farda</b> of almost no turnout.
• In Marivan, Kurdistan, where angry demonstrators ransacked local campaign headquarters of conservative candidates last week, a resident tells <b>Radio Farda</b> that people curse anyone who votes, adding that the cities of the Kurdistan province, which are close to the Iraqi border, have received anti-election propaganda literature distributed by exile anti-regime opposition groups.
• Khoramabad-based journalist <b>Abbas Dalvand</b> says voter turnout was low, and those who voted were motivated by tribal, not political, interests.
• Rasht-based Reporter <b>Kambiz Karimi</b> said in some Gilan province cities, conservative candidates had pre-paid voters, nevertheless, he adds, the turnout is expected to be lower than 12 percent.
• Shiraz reporter <b>Farid Yasamin</b> says, since only one reformist candidate had been approved to run for the city's Majles seat, low voter turnout was predictable.
• Tehran-based journalist <b>Kiarash Tehrani</b> says most government employees and factory workers voted to avoid being confronted by their bosses at work.
• Tehran-based reporter <b>Iman Azimi</b> says election officials at an uptown voting center told him the voter turnout appears to be lower than that of last year's municipal elections, which was the lowest in the history of the Islamic Republic. He adds that young people send text messages using their mobile phones in a campaign against voting. He adds that most young people preferred to spend their weekend (Friday) skiing or hanging out with friends on the mountains north of Tehran, a trend which was also reported by AFP in a dispatch from Tehran.
• In poorer eastern and central neighborhoods of Tehran, people, mostly elderly and traditional families, were lined up to vote, using lists of candidates issued by the conservative Abadgaran coalition, London daily <i>Guardian</i>'s reporter in Tehran <b>Dan De Luce</b> tells <b>Radio Farda</b>. However, voter turnout appears low in the uptown middle-class neighborhoods, he adds. In the provinces, where candidates represent tribal or ethnic groups, turnout is higher, he adds. (Shahran Tabari, London)
• In the morning of the elections day, Tehran streets are empty, and it feels like a New Year holiday, Tehran-based lawyer <b>Mohammad-Hossein Aghasi</b> tells <b>Radio Farda</b>. Unlike previous elections, during which voting centers were so crowded that people had to wait on line for hours in order to vote, this morning no traffic could be seen in several voting centers, he adds. The voice of the people, which turned into a loud but silent cry in the empty streets today, should be heard by the authorities, before these silent cries turn into a revolution; which as our people and people everywhere in the world have experienced, always accompanies death and destruction. The low turnout today is a message, which I hope the authorities will hear, Aghasi says. (Fereydoun Zarnegar)
• The turnout today was the lowest in the 25-year history of the Islamic revolution, Tehran University's economy professor and leftist activist <b>Fariburz Raisdana</b> tells <b>Radio Farda</b>. The people have lost interest in the idea of elections, because they do not think voting has any impact on their lives, he adds, predicting that by this evening when the voting ends, the total turnout would not exceed 30 percent of eligible voters. The next Majles will be unable to resolve any of the crises faced by our country, and thus, those crises will continue to mount and turn into disorders and other problems. (Fereydoun Zarnegar)
<b>Deadlock Leads to Unprecedented Democratic Movement</b>
• The failure of the Khatami reformists was due to the inherent contradiction in the concept of religious democracy, which was at the center of President Khatami and his followers' platform. But, as a result of the factional strife within the Islamic Republic, for the first time in the political history of modern Iran, a grass roots democratic movement is taking hold, which is most promising, because it is not centered on any personality or political party, Bennington College professor of politics <b>Mansour Farhang</b> tells <b>Radio Farda</b>. (Behnam Nateghi, New York)
مريم احمدي (راديو فردا): وزارت کشور با انتشار بيانيه اي، پايان راي گيري و مهر و موم شدن صندوق ها را اعلام کرد. يک منبع آگاه در وزارت کشور به خبرگزاري فرانسه گفته است احتمالا نتايج شمارش آراء حوزه هاي کوچکتر اوائل صبح شنبه و نتايج قطعي تا 48 ساعت ديگر اعلام مي شود. مقامات وزارت کشور حاضر نشده اند درباره ميزان مشارکت اظهار نظر کنند و ارزيابي هاي تقريبي ديگر منابع را رد کرده اند. به گزارش خبرگزاري فرانسه با توجه به رد صلاحيت ها، انتظار مي رود محافظه کاران مذهبي در انتخابات پيروز شوند. انتخابات که از ساعت هشت بامداد آغاز شده بود، بايد در ساعت شش بعد از ظهر به پايان مي رسيد، اما اين مدت تا ساعت ده شب تمديد شد.
کميسيون انتخاباتي وزارت کشور که در کنترل اصلاح طلبان است، در بيانيه جداگانه اي که منتشر کرده است به طور ضمني به اختلاف محافظه کاران و اصلاح طلبان اشاره مي کند. در بيانيه گفته شده است که طبق قانون تمديد مدت انتخابات تنها بر عهده وزارت کشور است. بيانيه از آن چه که مداخله شوراي نگهبان ناميده است، انتقاد کرده و گفته است: بديهي است مداخله نهادهاي غير مسئول در تمديد مهلت انتخابات و روند برگزاري انتخابات تاثير خواهد داشت.
ايالات متحده روز جمعه از انتخابات ايران انتقاد کرد و آن را غير عادلانه خواند. ادم ارلي، سخنگوي وزارت امور خارجه آمريکا، گفت: رد صلاحيت داوطلبان نمايندگي اقدامي است در جهت محدود کردن حق انتخاب مردم. اين قبيل اقدامات نشانگر يک انتخابات آزاد و عادلانه نيست و با هنجارهاي بين المللي همخواني ندارد. ستاد انتخاباتي وزارت کشور پايان راي گيري و مهر و موم شدن صندوق هاي اخذ راي را اعلام کرد. مقامات وزارت کشور حاضر نشدند درباره ميزان مشارکت اظهار نظر کنند. انتخابات که از ساعت هشت بامداد آغاز شده بود، قراربود در ساعت شش بعد از ظهر به پايان برسد، اما اين مدت تا ساعت ده شب تمديد شد. ستاد انتخاباتي وزارت کشور در بيانيه جداگانه اي گفت طبق قانون، تمديد مدت انتخابات تنها بر عهده وزارت کشور است. وزارت كشور از آنچه «مداخله» شوراي نگهبان ناميد، انتقاد کرد. از سوي ديگر، ريچارد باوچر، سخنگوي وزارت امورخارجه آمريكا انتخابات مجلس را غيرآزاد و غيرعادلانه خواند و گفت: رد صلاحيت داوطلبان نامزدي در انتخابات اقدامي بود در جهت محدود کردن حق انتخاب مردم و ناهمخوان با معيارهاي بين المللي.