Summary of Today's BroadcastRFE/RL Persian ServiceSunday, June 23, 2002
- Earthquake in Qazvin and Hamedan
- Ban on media discussion of US-Iran Relations
- Solitary prison cells, rise in executions, and political prisoners
- New legal marrying age for young girls
- Filmmaker MP faults regime's "cultural assault"
- Media, power and civil society in Iran
- Statistics on AIDS and drug addiction in Iran
Earthquake in Qazvin and Hamedan
* The interior ministry lowered the death toll of yesterday's earthquake in Qazvin and Hamedan to 230 from the previously reported 500. (Golnaz Esfandiari)
* Tehran-based journalist Lavin Alizadeh says the death toll is actually greater than the reported figure. She tells RFE/RL that inadequate rural buildings are the main cause of the high death toll. (Mahmonir Rahimi)
* France, Kuwait, Russia, Turkey and Azerbaijan declare their readiness to provide assistance. President Bush offered US condolences and help. (Siavash Ardalan)
* Deadly earthquakes in the past decade - a historical review. (Baktash Khamsehpour)
Tehran Judiciary Confirms Ban on Media Discussion of US-Iran Relations
* On his return from an official trip to Italy, Abbas-Ali Alizadeh, the cleric in charge of Tehran judiciary, said in a press conference yesterday in Tehran that in spite of official criticism the ban on media reports about US-Iran talks is still in effect. Alizadeh also announced that the trial of the jailed businessman Shahram Jazayeri on corruption charges would resume on June 30. Last week when Alizadeh was away, Hadi Marvi, the deputy chief of the Islamic Republic judiciary, questioned the legality of the Tehran judiciary's ban on media discussions about US-Iran relations. (Siavash Ardalan)
New Solitary Jail Cells, Rising Executions, and Political Prisoners
In a press conference in Tehran yesterday supreme court head Ayatollah Mohammad Mohammadi-Gilani said the number of death sentences approved by the supreme court during the last Persian year (March 2000-March 2001) was greater than that of the year before. Criticizing the judiciary, he said it is as far from the constitution as earth from heaven. In another development, Morteza Bakhtiari, head of the prisons system, said Evin prison is building more solitary cells. He added that in spite of the judiciary's 1999 circular banning jails outside the official prisons system, many detention centers continue to operate beyond the jurisdiction of the prisons system. He said Iran's 238 to 100,000 ratio of prisoners to general population is not high. Since there is no legal definition of "political crimes," there are no political prisoners.
* Tehran-based lawyer and human rights activist Mohammad-Hossein Aghasi says the Guardians Council has blocked the Majles attempts to define political crimes, which according to the constitution should be tried in courts with jury. However, all those charged with subversion or such dubious charges as "disseminating falsehoods" are in fact political prisoners who are being tried and convicted in regular courts without jury. He tells RFE/RL that police stations, criminal investigators and the intelligence ministry hold people they arrest in their own detention centers ostensibly because it is too complicated to take people out of regular prisons for interrogation. In addition to the temporary detention centers, there is another prison for political activists called "Prison 59." (Mehdi Khalaji)
Expediency Council Raises Marrying Age for Girls from 9 to 13
The Expediency Council set the legal marrying age for girls and boys at 13 and 15 respectively. In ruling on a dispute between the Majles and the Guardians Council, the Expediency Council allowed courts to approve marriage of girls younger than the legal age on a case by case basis.
* Tehran-based lawyer Farideh Qeyrat says the Expediency Council's ruling does not solve the problem of early age marriages, since courts in rural areas and small towns usually exempt girls as young as 9 from the legal marrying age at the request of their families. She tells RFE/RL that widespread poverty forces families to marry off their daughters at childhood in order to reduce the number of their dependents. The result is the high number of divorce applications filed by little girls. (Mahmonir Rahimi)
Filmmaker MP Faults Regime for Fabricating Charges against Artists
* MP Behruz Afkhami, a maker of popular films, criticized limitations on artists and cultural centers as "assaults on culture and arts" and said in a speech at the Majles yesterday that the judiciary, intelligence ministry and the police fabricate charges against artists. (Mehdi Khalaji)
Media, Power and Civil Society in Iran
* Sepideh Farkhondeh, 25, whose book "Media, Power and Civil Society" was published last week in France, says people in the west have a false image of Iranians as angry people with clenched, threatening fists burning other countries' flags. She tells RFE/RL that for a short period after Khatami's election to presidency in 1997 the press was relatively free to write about freedoms and civil society. In a chapter of her book, she discusses the impact of foreign-based broadcasts to Iran, including RFE/RL, as a means to expand free dialogue and creating a modern civil society. She urges RFE/RL to air the views of the Iranian youth. (Jean Khakzad, Paris)
AIDS, Drug Addiction and Prostitution
On the eve of the United Nations anti-drug day, Iran's health minister said that without a broad based media campaign, the confluence of drug addiction and the spread of AIDS could cause major problems in the country. Iranian officials give inconsistent statistics about the spread of drug addiction and AIDS. Mohammad-Reza Chamani, head of the Health Organization (Sazeman-e Behzisti) has declared the number of addicts at 1.2 million, whereas Ms. Zadfar, an AIDS advisor to the Iran Blood Transfer Organization put the number of injecting addicts at one million and said 12 percent of them are HIV positive or have full blown AIDS. UN anti-drug campaign representative put the number of addicts between 800,000 to one million, with an additional 3 million to 8 million recreational drug users.
* Dr. Heydar Tabrizi, a healthcare consultant says screening drug users for HIV stopped three years ago for political reasons, and thus all the figures being given about addiction and HIV infection are at least three years old. He tells RFE/RL that none of the figures cited by officials have any scientific basis, but prostitution has risen during the past three years particularly among addicts. Media avoid discussing AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases and one can never find the word condom in an Iranian newspaper or magazine. (Shireen Famili)
Private Sector to Issue Bonds
* The money and credit council is considering a proposal to allow the private sector to issue bonds. RFE/RL's Paris-based economic commentator Fereydoun Khavand says even if such a proposal was approved would have a difficult time competing with government banks in the bonds market.
* Pakistan says death of an unarmed soldier after being tortured by Indian army wiped out all recent efforts to reduce tension between the two countries. (Fariba Mavedat)
* Controversy continues in Afghanistan over Karzai's nominations to cabinet posts. (Shireen Famili)
* An al-Qaeda spokesperson says in an audiotape released to Aljazira network that both Bin Laden and Molla Omar are alive. (Jamshid Chalangi, Cairo)
* Rift between France and Germany cracks the EU. (Ahmad Ra'fat, Rome)
* French court refuses Muslim group's motion to ban a French translation of the latest book by Italian journalist Oriana Fallaci on Islam. (Ahmad Ra'fat, Rome)
* British monarchists protest a Fox comedy on Prince William's drinking and womanizing. (Fariba Mavedat)
* Sweden-based Afghan novelist Akram Osman tells RFE/RL about Farda literary monthly published in Swedish and Persian by the Afghan Pen Society. (Shahram Mirian, Cologne)
* France holds the 20th annual music festival held nationwide.
ARTS AND IDEAS
RFE/RL's Daily Coverage of Soccer World Cup
RFE/RL's soccer commentator, Mehrdad Masudi, reports from Seoul on today's World Cup games.
Historical Review: Government in the Passage of Time
* Tehran-based political science professor Mir Saleh discusses the blossoming of the Safavid and Ottoman empires and compares them with the Abbasid Empire. (Nazi Azima)
Weekly medical advice show. (Dr. Mansur Moslehi)
Influence of Western Literature on Persian Literature
* Sociologist Ehsan Naraghi interviews Tehran-based scholar Jalal Satari about the influence of Western Romantic literature on contemporary Persian literature. (Jean Khakzad, Paris)
حجت الاسلام عباسعلي عليزاده، رئيس كل دادگستري استان تهران امروز در يك كنفرانس مطبوعاتي گفت اطلاعيه دادگستري تهران در باره ممنوعيت بحث جانبدارانه در باره مذاكره با آمريكا همچنان به قوت خود باقي است. عليزاده همچنين اعلام كرد كه محاكمه شهرام جزايري، تاجرمتهم به فساد مالي، روز نهم تيرماه از سرگرفته مي شود. عليزاده در اين مصاحبه بر اقتدار طيف هوادار خود در دادگستري، و همچنين بر مبارزه دادگستري تهران با ناهنجاري هاي اجتماعي، قاچاق كالا و ساير معضلات غير سياسي تاكيد ورزيد. هفته گذشته، هنگامي كه عليزاده در خارج از كشور بود، هادي مروي، معاون اول قوه قضائيه در يك مصاحبه مطبوعاتي چنين القا كرد كه اطلاعيه دادگستري تهران در باره ممنوعيت بحث در باره مذاكره با آمريكا به اشتباه و در واكنش به يك شايعه صادر شده بود.