Summary of Iran Stories in Today's BroadcastsBehnam NateghiMonday, April 19, 2004
<b>US Senator Blasts UN For Ignoring Iran's Human Rights Violations</b>
• Senator Sam Brownback (R-Kansas) criticized the UN Human Rights Commission for avoiding to chastise Iran on human rights violations. He said despite clear evidence of violations of Iran and China, the UNHRC failed to condemn them. It was regrettable that the European countries, led by the EU, decided not to introduce a resolution on Iran in the Geneva session of the UNHRC, he added in a statement.
• The day-long human rights conference to be held on April 25 in Tehran should be called a ”human rights theater,” considering that no positive change has taken place in the human rights conditions of the Iranians, US-based human rights activist <b>Mandana Zand-Karimi</b> tells <b>Radio Farda</b>. The number of prisoners have increased and today we see that even 70 year old men are being held in jails and tortured, she adds. Iran's holding a conference on human rights with the participation of human rights lawyers and activists from around the world reads more as a script for comedy than a tragedy, she adds. In such a conference, those who live in Iran would not say anything out of fear, and the European countries would be silent for economic reasons, she says. We should call the April 25 conference in Tehran “The Theater of Human Rights Trampling,” she adds. (Parichehr Farzam)
<b>Foreign Minister Meets Italian Prime Minister</b>
• Judging by the short and cold statement issued by Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi's office, Italian reporters said the one-hour meeting Sunday night between Berlusconi and foreign minister Kamal Kharrazi failed to advance Italy's goal of obtaining the release of three Italian nationals who were taken hostage by Iraqi insurgents. Italy had pinned great hopes on Iran's intervention in the crisis, during which at least one Italian hostage has been killed by his captors. Italian sources say in his meeting with the Italian prime minister, Kharrazi did not offer anything positive on the standoff in Najaf between followers of radical cleric Moqtada Sadr and the US forces. Rome and Tehran also disagree on the recent killing in Gaza of the head of radical Islamic Palestinian group Hamas by the Israeli forces. Iran's nuclear program, another issue dividing Iran and Italy, was not discussed in the meeting. Foreign minister Franco Frattini will discuss that issue with Kharrazi in their meeting planned for Monday morning. (Ahmad Ra'fat, Rome)
• Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi has accepted an invitation to visit Iran this year, according to an official statement issued Sunday following his meeting here with Kharrazi. Berlusconi would like “Iran to be able to play a positive role -- even in the current situation -- in the stabilization process in Iraq and, more generally, in the whole of the Middle Eastern region,” the statement said.
• Foreign minister Kharrazi told the Italian prime minister on Sunday that Tehran was ready to use its influence on the Iraqi Shiites in exchange for Rome's mediation between Tehran and Washington, Italian daily <i>Il Corrierre della Sera</i> reported today. (Ahmad Ra'fat, Rome)
• Foreign ministry spokesman Hamid-Reza Asefi on Monday dismissed press reports that Tehran had sought Rome's mediation with Washington. Asefi rejected Italian daily <i>Courriere Della Sera</i>'s claim and said, “there has been no call on Italy for mediation and principally, ties between Iran and the US depend on change in Washington's approach and there is no need for mediation.”
• Iran's mediation in Iraq would bring Iran and the US closer together, Paris daily <i>Liberation</i> writes.
<b>Khatami's Sudden Cabinet Shuffle</b>
• President Khatami ousted his finance and economic affairs minister Tahmasb Mazheri quite unceremoniously, and replaced him with labor minister Safdar Hosseini. The cabinet shuffle raised many questions among economic observers in Tehran. Some blamed Mazeheri's ouster on his disputes with head of the management and planning organization Mohammad Sattarifar, but disputes among the cabinet's economic team have been brewing for a long time, and, if vice president Abtahi is to be believed, Sattarifar too has been pushed out. It is interesting that head of the Tehran chamber of commerce Alineqi Khamoushi, close to the right wing party Jam'iat Mo'talefeh Eslami, has praised Mazaheri as the best finance minister in the past 25 years. It may not be clear why Mazaheri was sacked, but it is clear that sudden management changes like this do not add to investors' confidence. (Fereydoun Khavand)
• Khatami named Isfahan reformist MP Naser Khaleqi, a member of the Participation Front party, to the labor ministry, as Safdar Hosseini's replacement Hosseini was good for the labor community, head of the association of Islamic labor councils of the Tehran province <b>Parviz Ahmadi</b> tells <b>Radio Farda</b>. He established good relations between the labor ministry and labor organizations, including the national association of Islamic labor councils, which is the biggest one, he adds. His departure from the labor ministry was unexpected, he says. The new labor minister had good relations with the Islamic labor councils at their formation, when he was at the Sharif University, and later as an MP from Isfahan. (Fereydoun Zarnegar)
<b>US Holds 50 Canadian MKO Members</b>
• There are 50 Canadian passport holders among the 3400 members of the Iraq-based anti-regime group the Mojahedin Khalq Organization (MKO) held under the US Forces' surveillance in Ashraf, a camp near Iranian border, Canadian daily the <i>National Post</i> reports. (Maryam Aghvami)
<b>Conservatives Suggest A New Beginning With A New Name</b>
• In last February's Majles elections, the conservative faction of the Islamic Republic campaigned the name of Iran builders coalition (Abadgaran). The new name means that the conservatives want to distance themselves from their past unpopularity, Tehran University political science professor <b>Sadeq Zibakalam</b> tells <b>Radio Farda</b>. They will try to create a new climate in the country's political atmosphere, he adds. The conservatives want to take advantage of the people's disaffection with the reformists, he says. They are responding to the people's expectation for change by introducing new faces and a new name, he adds. (Shahran Tabari, London)
<b>Albany Couple Report On 3 Years In Iran</b>
• From the summer of 2001 until last February when they returned home, Wally and Evie Shellenberger had a unique view of the events involving the US and the Muslim world, Albany's <i>Democrat-Herald</i> reports in an article by Les Gehrett. They lived during this time in Qum, a center for the study of the Shiite branch of Islam. “Whenever people met us and realized we were from the US, they were very excited, eager to talk about the US,” said Wally Shellenberger, a 65-year old psychiatrist.
<b>Qum Torn By Sadr's Conduct</b>
• “Events in neighboring Iraq have shaken Qum, holy seminary city south of Tehran -- among the most important cities of the Shiite faith, columnist Borzou Daragahi writes for New Jersey's <i>Star-Ledger</i>. Among the Shi'a clergy here, home to the shrine of the sister of a Shi'a saint, the clergy were divided as to whether to support Sadr's stand against the Americans or to blame him for inciting violence, he adds.
<b>Outgoing MP Highlights the Supreme Leader's Anti-Reform Role</b>
• In his resignation speech yesterday at the Majles, deputy speaker Behrzad Nabavi highlighted the role he said he Supreme Leader played to block the reformist agenda of the Majles and Khatami's government. He said the Supreme Leader backed Khatami's rival in the 1996 presidential elections, and since the reformists won the Majles majority, they were not given any opportunity to discuss their views about the system's shortcomings with the Supreme Leader, and have received no response to their many letters to the Supreme Leader, Nabavi said. However, Nabavi said the resignations of 130 Majles reformists did not mean an exit from politics, and they would participate in any “free” elections. Nabavi and other reformists turned in their resignations before the February 20 elections to protest against the Guardians Council's ban on their reelection. The Majles voted yesterday to approve Nabavi's resignation. (Mehdi Khalaji)
<b>Prison Guards Chain Veteran Journalist to Hospital Bed</b>
• The guards in the Evin prison have chained veteran journalist Siamak Pourzand, 74, to a bed in the prison's hospital and deny him access to outside doctors and hospitals, his Paris-based brother <b>Lohrasb Pourzand</b> tells <b>Radio Farda</b>. Pourzand, who went into coma last week after suffering from a heart attack, was brought in by two guards yesterday to a visit in jail with his sister, but the visit was cut short, due to Pourzand's poor health, Lohrasb adds. Siamak told his sister that the visit could be their last, Pourzand's brother says, blaming the Islamic Republic for “whatever happens to him.” (Mir-Ali Hosseini, Paris)
<b>Human Rights Groups In Berlin Invite Supporters To Unveiling Of Anti-Terrorism Plaque</b>
• Twenty human rights groups in Germany invited their supporters to join in the ceremony on April 20 for unveiling of a commemorative plaque next to Berlin's Mykonos restaurant, where a German court said three leaders of the Iranian Kurdish Democratic Party were gunned down 12 years ago by orders from the Islamic Republic officials. The plaque will be a reminder of the human rights conditions in Iran, spokesman of the society to defend political prisoners in Iran <b>Bahram Bigdali</b> tells <b>Radio Farda</b>. The courageous ruling of the German judge in the Mykonos case was groundbreaking and a turning point in the fight against the terrorism sponsored by the Islamic Republic. (Shahram Mirian, Cologne)
فاطمه امان (راديو فردا ): يك سناتور عضو كميسيون روابط خارجي سناي آمريكا، سم براون بك، سازمان ملل متحد را محكوم كرد كه در صدور قطعنامه اي جهت محكوم كردن رژيم تهران در مورد نقض فاحش حقوق بشر شهروندان ايراني كوتاهي كرده است.
پريچهر فرزام (راديو فردا): سناتور سم براون بك، عضو حزب جمهوري خواه در سناي آمريكا، كه ضمنا يكي از اعضاي كميته روابط خارجي سنا نيز هست، در اعلاميه اي از سازمان ملل متحد به اين مناسبت كه وضعيت بحراني نقض حقوق بشر را در ايران و چين مورد سرزنش قرار نداده است، انتقاد كرد.
وي گفت: من به شدت از اين كه عملي در اين مورد از سوي سازمان ملل متحد مشاهده نشد، متاسف و مايوس شدم. با وجود شواهد روشن نقض حقوق بشر، سازمان ملل متحد از صدور قطعنامه اي كه از اين دو كشور خواهان پاسخگويي براي رفتار نامناسب آنان در نقض حقوق بشر باشد، كوتاهي كرده است. سناتور براون بك همچنين از كشورهاي غربي كه توسط اتحاديه اروپا راهبري مي شوند، به مناسبت تصميم در مورد عدم صدور قطعنامه انتقاد از نقض فاحش حقوق بشر در ايران توسط حكومت روحانيان ابراز تاسف كرد.
سناتور براون بك افزود: پس از آنكه آمبئي ليگابو، گزارشگر ويژه سازمان ملل متحد در مورد آزادي بيان، سال گذشته به ايران سفر كرد و تصويري هشداردهنده از وضعيت حقوق بشر را براي جامعه جهاني ترسيم كرد و به جو آكنده از ترسي كه در نظام سركوبگر ايران درباره بيان انتقادآميز مردم عليه مقامات سياسي و دكترين مذهبي وجود دارد، در گزارشي به كميسيون حقوق بشر سازمان ملل آن را اعلام داشت، بايد از عدم صدور قطعنامه اي كه حكومت ايران را محكوم مي كند، ابراز تاسف كرد.
سناتور آمريكايي اضافه مي كند كه پاسداري كردن از حقوق اساسي و انساني ايرانيها، يك عامل حساس در هر نوع سياستي است كه از جنبش دموكراسي در ايران حمايت مي كند. ما نبايد اجازه دهيم كه روحانيان مستبد و خودكامه ايران به راحتي از هرگونه دردسري خلاص شوند.
سناتور سم براون بك، پيشگام صدور لايحه اي بود كه به نام لايحه دموكراسي ايران در ماه ژولي سال گذشته در مجلس سناي آمريكا به تصويب رسيد. اين لايحه در حمايت از برقراري دموكراسي در ايران بود. سناتور سم براون بك، از حزب جمهوريخواه، در اعلاميه اي از سازمان ملل متحد به اين مناسبت كه وضعيت بحراني نقض حقوق بشردر ايران و چين را مورد سرزنش قرار نداده است، انتقاد كرد. وي گفت که با وجود شواهد روشن نقض حقوق بشر، سازمان ملل متحد از صدور قطعنامه اي كه از اين دو كشور خواهان پاسخگويي براي رفتار نامناسب آنان در نقض حقوق بشر باشد، كوتاهي كرده است. سناتور براون بك همچنين از كشورهاي غربي كه توسط اتحاديه اروپا راهبري مي شوند، به مناسبت تصميم در مورد عدم صدور قطعنامه انتقاد از نقض فاحش حقوق بشر در ايران توسط حكومت روحانيان ابراز تاسف كرد.