Summary of Iran Stories in Today's BroadcastsBehnam NateghiSunday, May 02, 2004
<b>Democracy in Iraq Sends Message of Freedom to Tehran and Damascus, US President Says</b>
• A successful democracy in Iraq “would send forth the news, from Damascus to Tehran, that freedom can be the future of every nation,” US President said in his weekly radio address.
<b>US Sanctions Harmed Iran's Oil Industry, Minister Says</b>
• Oil minister Bijan Zangeneh admitted that the US ban on companies' investment in Iran's energy sector has harmed oil production. “When there is no competition we are harmed as well,” he said on Saturday in remarks to reporters, in which he also repeated the Islamic government's argument that the US sanctions have been more harmful to the US companies were shut off Iran's lucrative market. However, major US firms such as Halliburton and GE have found opportunities in Iran through their European subsidiaries, according to Reuters.
<b>Teachers Stage Sit-in Protests in Districts' Offices</b>
• Thousands of teachers across Iran took part in day-long sit-in protests at the education ministry's local offices. There were reports in the past few days that activist teachers were being pressured to call off the strike, but veteran teacher <b>Ahmad Behrang</b> tells <b>Radio Farda</b> that today's sit-in protests went on without any problem. The action, held in front of the 20 education district offices in Tehran, was called for by the teachers' trade association, he says. In front of the fourth district, the event went on very well, because the authorities provided the nearly 2000 teachers gathered there with audio equipment, and the teachers spoke one after the other, he says. However, at least in two districts there were no gatherings. Unlike the previous five-day strike, the classes were not closed, and the teachers who took part in the sit-in protests were off-duty, he adds. The teachers' main demand is pay equal to that of other civil employees. The poor quality of education, the lack of good management in schools and the weak conduct of the teachers' housing cooperatives are among the teachers' main complaints. (Mina Baharmast)
• In a resolution issued today, the Islamic society of teachers called for structural change in the education ministry.
<b>Majles Asks Judiciary to Reform Penal Code by Decriminalization of Religious Taboos</b>
The Majles directed the judiciary to prepare a bill to decriminalize small misdemeanors and purge the penal code from punishments that limit personal freedoms.
• Many actions which were perfectly legal before the revolution became punishable crimes under the post-revolutionary penal code, Tehran-based lawyer and human rights advocate <b>Mohammad Hossein Aghasi</b> tells <b>Radio Farda</b>. The prisons organization is crying out that there is no room left in the country's prisons, he adds. In the past, disregarding religious taboos was considered a personal matter, to be punished by going to hell in the afterlife. But since the revolution, the Islamic authorities decided to mete out punishments to people in this life for non-observance of religious taboos, he adds. For that reason, new crimes were written in to the penal code, based on which many people are receiving jail sentences and other punishments, he adds. However, he says, the judiciary may ignore the Majles request, or the Guardians Council may overturn the future Majles legislation on decriminalization of such things as walking alongside an unrelated woman in the streets or drinking alcohol at home. (Mahmonir Rahimi)
<b>Court Hears Opposition's Libel Complaint against the Guardians Council on Election Bans</b>
• A branch of the Tehran judiciary convened this morning to hear the libel complaint filed by Ebrahim Yazdi, secretary-general of the nationalist opposition group the Freedom Movement of Iran (FMI). In a letter to Yazdi explaining the reason for banning him from standing in last February's Majles elections, the Guardians Council had cited an article of the election law which includes apostasy. The judge said he will hear the representatives of the Guardians Council and its election supervision board in future sessions, Yazdi's lawyer <b>Mohammad-Ali Dadkhah</b> tells <b>Radio Farda</b>. The defendants had not been summoned by the court, and thus the hearing really did not take place and we are still in the first phase of this lawsuit, he adds. (Amir-Mosaddegh Katouzian)
• In another branch of the Tehran judiciary, a hearing was held on the complaint of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corp (IRGC) against Mohammad Salamati, secretary-general of the pro-reform leftist party the Mujahedin of the Islamic Revolution Organization (MIRO), who was also represented by Mohammad-Ali Dadkhah. The IRGC's complaint focused on a paragraph in a speech Salamati gave last year in which in he said “we don't have to be more Palestinian than the Palestinians,” suggesting that Iran should accept any solution to the Middle East conflict which is agreeable to the majority of Palestinians. The IRGC has accused Salamati of spreading false propaganda and disturbing to the public, Dadkhah says, adding that Yazdi and his fellow FMI member Mohammad Sadr-Haj-Seyyed-Javadi attended the hearing as supportive spectators. (Amir-Mosaddegh Katouzian)
<b>No Resolution on Iran Was Introduced at UN Human Rights Commission, Lahiji Says</b>
• At this year's session of the UN Human Rights Commission, the member states did not introduce any resolution to condemn the violations of human rights in Iran, Paris-based human rights advocate <b>Abdolkarim Lahiji</b> tells <b>Radio Farda</b>. The UNHRC cannot act if the member states don't introduce a resolution to be voted on, he adds. (Amir-Mosaddegh Katouzian)
<b>Majles MPs Propose Voting on Judiciary Chief's Ban on Torture</b>
• A group of reformist Majles MPs introduced a bill that would, in effect, turn the circular issued by judiciary chief Ayatollah Mahmoud Hashemi Shahroudi to ban torture and mistreatment of prisoners into law.
• Judiciary chief Shahroudi said last week that there are no political prisoners because there is no legal definition of political crimes. To define political crimes as provisioned in the constitution, three bills, one by the Khatami government, one by the judiciary under former chief Mohammad Yazdi and one by the Majles MPs, have been approved by the Majles, and have been rejected by the Guardians Council. “To say we have no political prisoners because no law defines political prisoners is only an excuse,” Tehran-based lawyer and human rights advocate tells <b>Radio Farda</b>. “If there is no law on political crime, then they should not arrest anyone for political crimes, he adds. In the absence of law, legal doctrine can be used as a source, according to the trial law approved in 1999, he adds. Therefore, he says, the judges should hear political cases in the presence of juries. (Mahmonir Rahimi)
<b>Trade Unions Association Questions Iran on Shahr Babak Labor Rally's Fatalities</b>
• The International Confederation of Free Trade Unions gave Iran six month to answer to its questions about the bloody repression last January of the 8-day Shahrbabak labor sit-in protest, in which four died and 40 were wounded.
<b>NGOs Step-In to Treat Drug Addicts</b>
• Throwing addicts in jail is not a solution to addiction problem, <b>Mir Taheri</b>, member of Jam'iat Aftab, a Tehran-based Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) active in treating drug addicts, tells <b>Radio Farda</b>. When the government has no addiction treatment facility, it is the people's job to step forward and form NGOs to deal with the problem, he adds. The drug enforcement headquarters have set up an office to interact with the NGOs, he says. Aftab, founded in 1998, provides in-house and outpatient treatment through a clinic, he says. (Leyli Arman)
<b>RadioFarda Roundtable: Press Freedom</b>
• <b>Hassan Zerehi</b>, managing editor of <i>Shahrvand</i>, a Toronto-based Persian weekly, <b>Reza Moini</b>, spokesman on Iran issues for the Paris-based Reporters Sans Frontiers, comment on press freedom in Iran in today's roundtable discussion.
<b>Foreign Ministry Denies IRGC's Involvement in Nuclear Program</b>
• Foreign ministry spokesman Hamid-Reza Asefi denied that the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corp (IRGC) was involvement in a secret nuclear weapons program. A spokesman of the Iraq-based anti-regime opposition group Mujahedin Khalq Organization (MKO)'s National Resistance Council said last week the IRGC was running a secret a-bomb project under the Supreme Leader's direction.
درگيريهاي خونين يک ماه گذشته درعراق و فاش شدن بدرفتاري با زندانيان در زندان ابوقريب توسط شماري از نظاميان آمريکا، دولت بوش را مورد انتقاد حزب دموکرات آمريکا و بخشي از افکار عمومي اين کشور و کشورهاي اروپايي و خاورميانه قرار داده است. اما جرج بوش در نطق هفتگي راديويي خود روز گذشته بار ديگر از سياست دولتش در پيوند با عراق دفاع کرد و آن را بخشي از مبارزه عليه تروريسم و براي دموکراسي در جهان توصيف کرد و اظهار داشت که برقراري دموکراسي در عراق پيام ما را به ايران و سوريه نيز مي رسد که آزادي مي تواند آينده هر کشوري باشد. جرج بوش گفت که مرگ سربازان آمريکايي در عراق عبث نبوده و خونشان به هدر نرفته است.