Summary of Iran Stories in Today's BroadcastsBehnam NateghiSaturday, March 20, 2004
<b>RadioFarda New Year Celebration Coverage</b>
<b>Radio Farda</b> devoted a four-hour special program to the New Year celebration, which began at 10 AM Tehran time today. Also, all 15-minute newscasts and the four half-hour daily news magazines were mostly devoted to the Persian New Year.
• In live and pre-recorded interviews, independent journalists and cultural figures, as well as residents in Tehran and many other provinces talk about the New Year rites, ceremonies and foods, as well as the feelings and memories that the Persian New Year celebrations conjure. The interviews partially focus on the clash this year between the national tradition of the New Year, based on the solar calendar, and the Shiite Islamic mourning period, based on the lunar calendar. The government media and Friday prayer leaders encouraged a somber observation of otherwise joyful New Year celebrations. Tehran University political science professor <b>Sadeq Zibakalam</b> says since the 1979 revolution, religious celebrations have become more important to him than the ancient Iranian tradition. Most interviewees however express respect for religious ceremonies, but say they equally value their national heritage. (Mahmonir Rahimi)
• Kermani journalist <b>Vahid Qarai</b> says the Bam earthquake victims have prepared to celebrate the New Year, with the help of relief organizations. (Mahmonir Rahimi)
• Director of RFE/RL's Tajik service <b>Sajedeh Mirza</b> says the Persian New Year traditions survived 70 years of Soviet oppression. (Ardavan Niknam)
• <b>Radio Farda</b> airs a special report by RFE/RL's Afghan service correspondents about the Persian New Year ceremonies in Afghanistan. (Ardavan Niknam)
• Director of RFE/RL's Azeri service Abbas Javadi tells <b>Radio Farda</b> that the Persian New Year is celebrated in Azerbaijan not as the beginning of the year, but as the beginning of Spring, during which, as they do in Iran, people visit each other, buy new clothes and gifts. Observing the Persian New Year traditions was banned under the Soviets, he adds. (Ardavan Niknam)
• Kurdish writer and scholar <b>Salah Souran</b> tells <b>Radio Farda</b> that Saddam Hussein had banned observing the Persian New Year in Iraqi Kurdish provinces.
• Veteran journalist <b>Sadreddin Elahi</b> reads a piece about a childhood New Year memory. Toronto- based <b>Ahmad Sakhavarz</b> says he remembers warm friendly New Year gatherings in Iran. Amsterdam-based journalist <b>Sina Motalebi</b> names the journalists who are spending the New Year in jails, away from their families. Tehran-based literary critic and poet <b>Javad Mojabi</b> reads a poem about finding a hyacinth flower budding in a pot, forgotten in his attic's corner. He says the flower's budding in the darkness and cold of the winter attic is an allegory for all those living through historical winters. (Jamshid Chalangi)
• <b>Radio Farda</b> airs a review of the past year's events, based on archived material. (Jean Khakzad)
• Two young avid Internet users say they now send New Year greetings electronically, using e-cards, but add that it feels more personal to receive greetings in the mail. IT consultant <b>Rahim Bajoghli</b> tells <b>Radio Farda</b> that Internet companies use e-cards to measure bandwidth and to increase traffic to their sites. (Maryam Ahmadi)
<b>Former Empress Remembers Bitter and Sweet Memories on Book Tour</b>
• The saddest day of my life was when my husband died in Egypt,” Former Empress <b>Farah Pahlavi</b> tells <b>Radio Farda</b>. Ms. Pahlavi, who is on a book tour in the US promoting the English version of her memoirs <i>An Enduring Love: My Life With the Shah</i>, adds that on a personal level, the death of her daughter Princess Leyla created a sad, unhealed wound in her heart, as losing a daughter would in the heart of any mother. Politically, she says, the most horrifying for her, as for all Iranians, was Iraq's attack on Iran, “a country to which it did not dare do such a thing when we were there.” As an individual, she adds, “what I have learned over the years is to not keep any bitterness in my heart, to try to always remain hopeful, and to try to understand whatever negativity I see in people.” “I've had twenty years of life as a normal girl, 20 years as the Empress of my country, and 25 years in exile,” she says, “I look at all these as life experiences.” (Ali Sajjadi)
<b>The Year In Human Rights</b>
• The people's freedom of choice was violated during the February 20 Majles elections, Nobel Peace Prize Laureate <b>Shirin Ebadi</b> tells <b>Radio Farda</b>, in an assessment of the past year's events in the human rights. The disqualification of election candidates by the Guardians Council lowered the turnout, Ebadi, who is in Jakarta airport catching a plane to Iran, adds. Furthermore, in many jail sentences given to the political and non-political defendants, the country's penal code and trial laws have been ignored, Ebadi, who's Nobel Peace Prize was biggest human rights event of the year, adds. (Amir-Mosaddegh Katouzian)
<b>Special: Mobile Phone Trouble</b>
• In a funny radio documentary, <b>Radio Farda</b> covers the troubles of mobile phone subscribers in Iran, who face a busy signal or “subscriber not available” message 35 percent of the times they try to use their mobile phones. However, as a mobile phone salesman says, more than 2 million people paid 4.4 million rials each to apply for new mobile phones, a service he says, would not be available in almost two years. Unlike the rest of the world, Iran Telecom oversold a service even before it began building it. (Ardavan Niknam with Arash Qavidel in Tehran)
<b>In New Year Messages on RadioFarda, Political Prisoners' Kin Call for Their Release</b>
• Wives, children and relatives of prominent political prisoners, wish Iranians a happy New Year and call for the release of their jailed loved ones in messages on <b>Radio Farda</b>. These include wife and daughters of veteran journalist Siamak Pourzand, wife, son and daughter of lawyer Nasser Zarafshan, sister of student activists Mohammadi brothers, father of activist Dr. Farzad Hamidi, and wives of political activists Taqi Rahmani and Heshmatollah Tabarzadi. (Amir-Mosaddegh Katouzian)
• Relatives of prominent jailed journalists, political activists and students gathered by at the gate of the Evin prison in Tehran for a public celebration of the traditional New Year, Nowruz. More than 60 families had turnout for the event, and they wished the New Year will bring the long-awaited release of their loved ones, activist <b>Kianoush Sanjari</b>, of the “independent” opposition group the Democratic Front, who was at the gathering, tells <b>Radio Farda</b>. Early in the morning, an officer told the gathered families that he had orders from Tehran prosecutor Said Mortazavi to prevent any New Year event at the prison gate, Sanjari says. But when more families arrived for the event, the police did nothing, except filming the gathering, he adds. According to reports received by <b>Radio Farda</b>, special security measures were placed in effect inside the Evin prison, as the families' New Year celebration went on outside. We threw the flowers over the prison wall at the end of the gathering, another participant, Nargess Mohammadi, wife of jailed nationalist-religious activist Taqi Rahmani, tells <b>Radio Farda</b>. (Fereydoun Zarnegar)
جرج بوش، رئيس جمهوري آمريکا در پيام راديوئي هفتگي روز شنبه از سياست دولت خود در جنگ عراق دفاع کرد و گفت نيروي ائتلاف هرگز عراق را به تروريستها نخواهد سپرد. آقاي بوش گفت: آزادي عراق به سود عراقيها، به سود مردم آمريکا و به سود همه جهانيان بود. زنان و مردان خاورميانه به عراق مي نگرند. كمك به عراق به عنوان يك كشور آزاد مسئوليتي جهاني است. وي افزود در مجموع پنجاه كشور به عراق كمك مي كنند تا از بار دهه ها ستم بيرون آيد اما هنوز آدمكشان در عراق حضور دارند. تروريست ها از ما متنفرند و آنها كشورهايي را كه خواهان مدارا و آزادي در جهان اند، هدف قرار داده اند. آنها در مادريد فارغ از نداي وجدان، مادران و كودكان را در قطار كشتند. جنگ با ترور يك بازي لفظي نيست. من اطمينان دارم عدالت و آزادي بر ترور و ستم پيروز خواهد شد.