Summary of Iran Stories in Today's BroadcastsBehnam NateghiFriday, April 30, 2004
<b>Marchers Call for Better Wages and Denounce Privatization</b>
• Celebrating the international labor day, thousands of marchers today in Tehran's Baharestan circle praised the Supreme Leader as the representative of the Prophet of Islam, and called for abolition of temporary labor contracts, denounced the President Khatami's privatization of state-owned enterprises, as well as the fourth five-year economic development plan (2005-10). “Let go of the Palestine, Do something for us!” chanted the voters, in a slogan critical of the Islamic regime's obsession with Israeli-Palestinian conflict in the Middle East. In another slogan, marchers who had gathered in front of the management and plan organization's offices, called for the government's recognition of the labor's right to strike. In a statement read at the end of the march, the marchers demanded emergency action by the government to stop child labor, especially in illegal trades, such as drug dealing and smuggling. The workers are worried about their annual wage raise, for which no budget has been set aside in the fourth 5-year economic development plan, Tehran-based journalist <b>Behruz Qezel-Bash</b> tells <b>Radio Farda</b>. The workers fear that in the absence of the provision, the plan, unlike the past three plans, would give too much power to the supreme council on labor to decide the rate of annual wage raise. (Fereydoun Zarnegar)
• The situation of the workers in the West is totally different from that of the workers in Iran, leftist activist <b>Ali Keshtgar</b> tells <b>Radio Farda</b>. In Iran, all labor organizations are either governmental, or formed and led by government officials, whereas in the West, labor organizations are independent, and their right to strike and to collectively negotiate on wages and other matters is respected, he says. In Iran, workers who attempt to organize a strike or protest, would have to deal with the butchers and killers who call themselves judges, and we know how they treat those who rise to defend their rights, he adds. With his monthly pay of nearly 1000 euros, an average French worker can buy 120 kilograms of lamb, or 250 kilos of beef, or 300 kilos of chicken, but an Iranian worker buying power is 10 times less, working many more hours per week than his European counterpart, he adds.
• The early retirement for workers in hard and dangerous occupations, and an end to the temporary hiring were on the top of the list of the workers' demands today, former member of the Islamic labor council of the Karj Chit textile company <b>Abdollah Khajehnouri</b> tells <b>Radio Farda</b>. The workers' other problem is that the manufacturing companies are going out of business, due to mismanagement, slow production and recession. The practice of hiring with short-term contracts has workers' families worried, he adds. (Fereydoun Zarnegar)
<b>Rafsanjani Criticizes Khatami on False Promises to Youth</b>
• “It is not right to give young people false hopes with our slogans, and then disappoint them, when we cannot deliver on the promises we made, former President Ali-Akbar Hashemi-Rafsanjani said in his sermon today at the official Friday prayer ceremony at Tehran University. His comments came a day after President Khatami, speaking to a gathering on the occasion of the official “Youth Week,” apologized for his government's undelivered promises. Rafsanjani in fact completes Khatami's statement, head of the national committee for dense of young people's rights <b>Saeed Dehgan</b> tells <b>Radio Farda</b> “I defend neither Khatami nor Rafsanjani, but if the constitutional rights are only a bunch of slogans, why is the constituion often cited as the basis for rejection of the Majles legislations?” (Farin Asemi)
<b>Judiciary Chief Counters Khatami on Political Prisoners</b>
• There are no political prisoners in Iran, judiciary chief Ayatollah Mahmoud Shahroudi said yesterday in a press conference. His comments contradicted President Khatami's remarks a day earlier. Khatami had denied having denied the existence of political prisoners, and said many are behind bars for expressing their opinions. “I don't know what Khatami had in mind,” Shahroudi said. If Khatami meant that some defendants have been convicted for political crimes, I have to say that we have no legal definition for political crime, and therefore, no political prisoners, judiciary chief said, referring to the several bills on the definition of political crimes as provisioned by the Islamic Republic constitution, which had been introduced by the Majles, government and the judiciary, and were rejected by the Guardians Council. He said the constitution designates the judiciary as the sole body responsible for introducing bills to the Majles on judicial matters such as political crimes. The judiciary chief dismissed as “political” the US, EU and UN reports on human rights violations in Iran. Ignoring the closing of more than 250 newspapers and magazines, Shahroudi said “the freedoms of expression and press and all kinds of other freedoms that exist in this country do not exist anywhere else in the world.”
<b> Iran Tops US List of State Sponsors of Terrorism</b>
• The US named Iran as the world's biggest state sponsor of terrorism. In its annual report, Patterns of Global Terrorism, the US State Department left unchanged the list of state sponsors of terrorism, which includes Iran, Syria, Libya, Iraq and North Korea. Iraq will be omitted once that country's new government renounces terrorism, the report said. A total of 307 people were killed last year, compared with 725 in 2002 and 1,593 were wounded, compared with 2,013 last year, in 190 acts of international terrorism, eight fewer than in 2002.
• “The US is not in a position to judge other countries as being terrorists, but should rather accept blame,” foreign ministry spokesman Hamid-Reza Asefi said on Friday. “As the main supporter of the Israeli regime, the US is actually promoting terrorism, he added.
• The designation of Iran as a state sponsor of terrorism is correct, considering the US definition of terrorism, which includes all those groups that took part in the conference in Tehran organized by secretary of the Guardians Council Ayatollah Ahmad Jannati, Columbia University's <b>Gary Sick</b> tells <b>Radio Farda</b>. The tone of the Iran section of the State Department's report on terrorism is a departure from the past, but it does not indicate any change in the US policy towards the Islamic Republic, he adds. (Leyli Sadr)
<b>Heads of Judiciary and Government Blast Runaway Inflation</b>
• In speeches and press conferences in the past few days, President Khatami and judiciary chief Shahroudi blasted high prices and the rising inflation rate. Khatami said the “faulty” price hikes maybe due to a lack of government control, or a lack of supervision on government enterprises. The judiciary chief said the supreme administrative court of justice was responsible to overturn government organs' circulars and decisions on prices. Among other things, in their march in Tehran today, the workers will protest against the rising inflation rate.
• As the reformist Majles nears the end of its tenure and President Khatami begins his final year in office, the high inflation rate has once again become a point of contention between the two ruling factions of the Islamic government. Khatami promised on Wednesday to curb the inflation, and Safdar Hosseini, the new finance minister, said he will convene a special cabinet meeting next week to deal with the inflation. Iran's rate of inflation fell from 23 percent in 1996 to 11 percent in 2001, but has risen again to 17 percent, according to the International Monetary Fund figures, which show Iran has the highest inflation rate in the region, compared to 0.5 percent in Saudi Arabia, 1 percent in Oman and Libya and 3.2 percent in Egypt. The rising inflation is an outcome of the country's budget deficit, the increase in money supply and an state economy dominated by corruption, <b>Radio Farda</b>'s Paris-based economic commentator <b>Fereydoun Khavand</b> says.
<b>Letter Threatens Writers and Activists to Death</b>
• An obscure group calling itself the Muhammad's Army after the Islamic prophet threatened a group of well-known writers, critics and political activists with imminent assassination. The intelligence ministry summoned the managing editor of the literary magazine <i>Karnameh</i>, which had published the content of the letter which it had received in the mail. The letter is a reminder of the 1997 murders of dissidents for which four intelligence ministry agents were put on trial. Judging by its contents and the list of assassination targets, I doubt the authenticity of the letter, Tehran University economy professor and political activist <b>Fariburz Raisdana</b> tells <b>Radio Farda</b>. (Mahmonir Rahimi)
<b>Teachers Plan Strike for Sunday</b>
• By the invitation of the teachers' trade association and several other teachers' groups, a sit-in strike has been planned for next Sunday at the education ministry's district offices across the country. Reportedly, activist teachers are being pressured to call off the strike. Two activist teachers in Kerman were arrested earlier this morning. The Sunday strike will go on as planned, and would last only one day, secretary of the teachers' trade association <b>Mahmoud Beheshti</b> tells <b>Radio Farda</b>. But if the present conciliatory attitude of the authorities turns hostile, the strike may be extended, he adds. “In their previous strikes and sit-ins, our colleagues showed that they do not intend their protests to be exploited for political means,” he says. The government's response to the widespread teachers' strikes and protests has been two bills, one to raise the bottom of all civil servants' salaries, and the other, is a plan to raise the teachers' payroll grades as a reward for performance, and is not universal; it does nothing to end the inequality between the teachers' pay and that of other civil servants, he adds. (Jamshid Zand)
<b>Egyptian and Iranian Trade Envoys Meet in Sharm-el-Sheikh</b>
• On the sidelines of the investment conference held today in Sharm-el-Sheikh, Egypt, a delegation from the Tehran chamber of commerce met with the Egyptian trade officials to discuss expansion of trade between the two countries. Before the revolution, Iran invested over $1 billion in Egypt's textile, glass and tourism industries, some of that investment was settled after Egypt turned over to Iran a factory worth $500 million. Iran's holdings in Egypt's textile and glass industries are valued at $250 million. Iran has other investments in Egypt's hotels, banking and shipping. Trade between the two countries was $74 million in 2003. (Farideh Rahbar)
رئيس جمهوري آمريكا در سخناني از رفتار چند سرباز آمريكايي با اسيران عراقي انتقاد كرد و گفت رفتار مشتي معدود، نماينده رفتار همه آمريكائيان نيست. رئيس جمهوري آمريكا گفت: من عميقا بيزارم كه با زندانيان آنگونه رفتار شود، رفتار آنان بازتاب طبيعت مردم آمريكا نيست، ما در آمريكا اينگونه رفتار نمي كنيم. آقاي بوش در بخش ديگري از سخنان خود گفت: آن چند نفري كه آن رفتار را كردند، نماينده طبيعت مردمي كه ما به خارج مي فرستيم نيستند. آنها نماينده مردم و شخصيت آنان كه به اين كشور خدمت مي كنند و آرمان آزادي را به پيش مي برند، نيستند.