Summary of Iran Stories of Today's BroadcastsBehnam NateghiMonday, May 10, 2004
<b>Bar Associations' Union Supports Judiciary Chief's Anti-Torture Circular</b>
• The national union of bar associations issued a statement lauding the judiciary chief's ban on torture and mistreatment of prisoners and defendants. “It is great that the principles on which the society has been founded, and are aimed at protecting the rights of individuals, would be honored,” the statement said.
• <i>New York Times</i> reporter Nazila Fathi writes from Tehran: Iran's hard-line Guardian Council, in a surprise move, has approved a law banning torture two days after the measure was passed by the departing reformist Parliament. The council, a powerful oversight agency, had rejected an earlier bill three times, saying it violated Islamic law. The approval of the bill on Thursday is an important political achievement for Parliament, which ends its term on May 26. Its reform agenda has suffered because of pressure from the council, which must approve all measures before they become law.
<b>22 Conservative MPs to Testify against Mohsen Armin</b>
• A Tehran judiciary's appeals court is holding a hearing today on charges of libel against reformist Tehran MP Mohsen Armin, in which 22 conservative MPs are expected to testify. In a speech last year at the Majles, Armin accused Tehran prosecutor Said Mortazavi of involvement in the death in custody of Canadian-Iranian journalist Zahra Kazemi. A lower court had sentenced Armin to six months in jail and a one year ban from public office for insulting an MP during the squabble with conservatives after his speech last June against the prosecutor.
• Canada's society of journalists awarded its President's prize to Zahra Kazemi. Head of the society Paul Schneidereit said Kazemi was a brave journalist and her death under torture by Iranian authorities was sickening.
<b>Islamic Revolutionary Guards Occupy New Airport</b>
• The Khatami administration said it Monday will investigate the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corp (IRGC)'s occupation of the Tehran airport, which led to the closure of the airport a day after it opened after being under construction for 35 years. The IRGC blocked all airport runways on Saturday by parking armored personnel carriers on them, and forced the airport to divert an Iranian airline's flight from Dubai to Isfahan. The conservative IRGC's move was in protest against the reformist government's handing the airport management contract to an Austrian-Turkish consortium, which was told to pull its personnel and equipment out of Iran. Majles Speaker Mehdi Karrubi named two MPs to investigate the airport closure, which he said was “a disaster and a disgrace for the country.”
• Armed occupation and closure of an airport years in the making was another blow to Iran's weakened economic credit and made the airport project an example of the 9000 large and small unfinished development projects, which may or may not be completed in the next 35 years. The closure was also another reflection of the xenophobic attitude of sections of the Islamic regime, which has damaged the country's ability to expand foreign trade and attract foreign investment, <b>Radio Farda</b>'s Paris-based economic commentator <b>Fereydoun Khavand</b> says.
• Maybe those who control several ports in the country also need access to an international airport and use the involvement of foreign contractors as an excuse, airport expert <b>Ali-Asghar Ardakanian</b>, who was involved in planning Tehran's international airport 35 years ago under the Shah's government, tells <b>Radio Farda</b>. Foreign contractors have been active in the airport project for more than 25 years, he adds, and the transportation minister has told domestic contractors to bring in foreign partners and experts, if they want to bid for projects. Even if we agree with and believe the IRGC's excuse for occupying the airport and closing its operation, it is worth pointing out that these contracts had not been signed yesterday, Tehran-based reformist journalist <b>Hassan Fathi</b> tells <b>Radio Farda</b>. This airport had been planned as a hub for the region, but it appears that it would not be able to fulfill its mission after the IRGC's takeover, he adds. The IRGC's complaint about foreign contractor's work in the airport appears to have been motivated by political, not security, concerns, he add. (Fereydoun Zarnegar)
<b>Privatization and Jobs: An Expert's View</b>
• Iran has 10 million wage earners who stand to lose their jobs if the government continues with its plan to privatize state-owned enterprises, according to the head of Khaneh Kargar, a labor organization. As a result of the privatization process, 265 companies active in the country's national industries are faced with bankruptcy. We are not privatizing in a manner that would encourage job creation, Tehran University economy professor <b>Musa Ghaninezhad</b> tells <b>Radio Farda</b>. Without economic liberalization to rid the economy from the weight of regulations and bureaucratic restrictions, our unemployment problem cannot be resolved, he adds. However, he says, it is natural for the privatized enterprises to trim their workforce, he says. (Mahmonir Rahimi)
<b>Student Organizations to Protest against Aghajari's Death Sentence</b>
• Several Islamic student organizations, including Tehran University's, will meet next Tuesday to plan a new round of demonstrations against the Tehran teachers' college history professor Hashem Aghajari's death sentence, which was officially renewed last week after being struck down by the Islamic judiciary's supreme court following last year's widespread student protests. Aghajari has been in jail since June 2002, following a speech in a Hamedan mosque about Islamic Protestantism, during which he criticized the clerical rule and questioned the Shiite principle of religious emulation.
<b>Tehran Municipal Government Submits “Inflated” Budget</b>
• The budget for Tehran's municipal government for the current fiscal year, which began March 20, 2004, is 36 percent greater than the previous year's budget. Since 2000 a new item was added to Tehran's budget for development projects to be paid for by the national government, former director of executive affairs at the Tehran municipal council <b>Mehdi Kaveh</b> tells <b>Radio Farda</b>. In this year's budget, the Tehran municipal council increased the national government's contribution from 4 trillion rials to 5.6 trillion rials, with the goal of increasing pressure on the government to pay some of the costs of using Tehran as its seat, he says. However, he adds, Tehran's municipal government has been incapable of absorbing its development budget in the past two years. Last year, the government spent 3.5 trillion rials to cover Tehran's underground train's commitments to domestic and international banks. (Fereydoun Zarnegar)
اتحاديه سراسرى کانونهاى وکلاى دادگسترى روز دوشنبه از بخشنامه اخير رئيس قوه قضاييه جمهوري اسلامي در منع شكنجه متهمان و رعايت حق زندانيان و دسترسي آنها به وكيل، حمايت کرد. اتحاديه وكلا با اشاره به فرازهايي از بخشنامه ر’يس قوه قضاييه آمده است: «اين افتخار بزرگي است که اصولي که اساس جامعه بر آن بنيان يافته است و بر حاکميت قانون و صيانت از شان و منزلت انسانها و حقوق آنان اهتمام دارد، محترم شمرده شود.» اين اتحاديه با آرزوى حاکميت قانون و اجراى صحيح اصول قانون اساسي و ساير معيارهاى قانوني در کشور، ابراز اميدوارى کرد که اقدام رئيس قوه قضاييه، طلايه اقدامات ارزشمند ديگرى براى حفظ حقوق ملت باشد.