Summary of Iran Stories of Today's BroadcastsBehnam NateghiTuesday, December 31, 2002
<b>Police Arrest 300 in Ahwaz Riots</b>
* Police arrested 300 in the southwestern city of Ahwaz after the widespread riots that followed yesterday's crackdown on shops selling music CDs, DVDs and videos. Ahwaz MP Jasem Shadidzadeh called for the removal of police chiefs. Shadidzadeh told domestic news agencies that police refused to explain the arrests, the blockade by rioting people of the two main roads leading to Ahwaz, and the fire bombing of a bank building. Said Al-e Kasir, an official at the Ahwaz MPs' local office, tells <b>Radio Farda</b> that residents and shopkeepers resisted yesterday when policemen, some of them from neighboring towns, raided the shops. He adds that MP Shadidzadeh has called for calm. He says the city's Arab neighborhoods raided by the police have a different cultural environment and social texture, and the police did not take into account these differences yesterday. They also did not pay attention to the fact that the time of their raids coincided with schools' closing, and hundreds of students gathered and clashed with the police in support of the raided stores. (Shahran Tabari, Prague)
<b>Local Councils Elections</b>
* Political groups called for greater public participation in the upcoming elections of the local councils.
* Washington-based moderate republican activist Amir-Hossein Ganjbakhsh tells <b>Radio Farda</b> that unlike the Majles and presidential elections, the applicants for candidacy in the local councils' elections do not have to be vetted by the conservative Guardians Council. This election is a challenge for Khatami's interior ministry to show that it does not divide Iranians into two groups. He adds that due to the lack of a party system in Iran, the election of members of a political group or faction does not necessarily mean the victory of any particular political program. (Ali Sajjadi, Washington)
<b>Three-Man Committee to Work on National Unity</b>
* Reformist MP and board member of the pro-Khatami party the Participation Front (Jebheh-ye Mosharekat) Ali Shakuri-Rad said a three-man national unity committee is being formed that would try to ease the mounting tensions between the two ruling factions. Reformist cleric Hadi Qabel, another board member of the Participation Front, said the conservatives see themselves as the representatives of God on earth. He added that people would never accept a concept of religion that does not value their views. (Leyli Sadr, Washington)
<b>Rafsanjani Blasts Los Angeles-Based Satellite TVs</b>
* Former president Ali-Akbar Hashemi-Rafsanjani blasted Persian-language TV channels broadcasting to Iran. He said these television programs are impure, dirty windows set up to deceive a few gullible people inside Iran. He said that as in the constitutional revolution, the "enemies" have targeted Iranian youth. He added that the Los Angeles-based broadcasters who attack the Islamic revolution do not dare come near the Iranian borders.
* Zia Atabai, director of the satellite broadcaster NITV, tells <b>Radio Farda</b> that soon the Los Angeles broadcasters will operate from within Iran's borders and it would be the likes of Rafshanjani who would be afraid to come near the borders. He adds that Rafsanjani and those who think like him want to keep Iran 14 centuries behind the times, that his government is against the people, and they should all resign and go away if they want to avoid bloodshed. He says Iran jams foreign radio broadcasts, and soon will have equipment to block satellite TV broadcasts which advocate freedom for the Iranian people. However, he adds, "I don't think they can stop the Internet." (Iraj Arianpour)
<b>Healthcare Ministry Orders Doctors to Receive AIDS Patients</b>
* Deputy health minister Mohammad Ismael Akbari ordered private and state doctors, clinics and hospitals not to turn away HIV or AIDS patients. In an effort to control the spread of the disease, he asked doctors to catalogue the cases and provide immediate treatment, or face punishment. According to the latest official statistics, an estimated 4,237 people are suffering from full-blown AIDS while nearly 21,000 people are HIV-positive. Medical sources said, however, that the real figure could be far higher, given that blood tests are generally only carried out among prisoners, people preparing to marry and blood donors, and fear of punishment for taking drugs or having homosexual relations may make many infected people reluctant to seek treatment.
<b>University Calls Students' Sit-In a Conspiracy</b>
* The administrative council of the Tehran Elm-va-San'at (Science and Industry) University called the sit-in of hundreds of students a conspiracy organized by those who want to justify bringing police into the universities. After staging a sit-in protest for more than a week outside the administration building, the students have occupied the building and the director's office since Sunday and demand the resignation of the director and his deputy for student affairs. The administrative council asked the students to the end their occupation or face removal by appropriate measures. (Shireen Famili, Prague)
<b>Former Guards Chief Disowns Plainclothes Agents</b>
* Former head of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) Mohsen Rezaie said the plainclothes agents who disrupt lectures by reformists and beat up anti-conservative demonstrators in the streets and universities are an outcome of free speech, and added that government officials do not condone their actions. In a speech at the Majles yesterday, the Ahwaz MP asked the defense ministry to explain the involvement of the members of the IRGC using government vehicles and state-issue equipment in disrupting political gatherings and speeches. (Amir-Mosaddegh Katouzian)
<b>Ashgabat Thieves Kill Iranian Oxford Professor and His Family</b>
* Oxford University metallurgy professor Arash Takin, his wife and his five daughters were found dead in their home in Ashgabat on December 25. Iranian-born Takin regularly visited Turkmenistan for research. RFE/RL Turkmen service reporter Aq-Morad tells <b>Radio Farda</b> that according to unconfirmed reports the culprits were thieves looking for money. Professor Takin and his family were buried in Gonbad-e Qabous, Iran. (Fereydoun Zarnegar, Prague)
<b>Pollster Goes on Trial for Selling Info to US</b>
* Bench 1410 of the Tehran public courts resumed the trial of Behruz Geranpayeh, head of the national public opinion research center, on charges of spying for the US. Geranpayeh's lawyer Ramazan Haji-Mashhadi tells <b>Radio Farda</b> that his client admitted that he erred in accepting foreign commissions without clearing them with officials. However, he adds, Geranpayeh's defense showed that all charges against him were baseless, and that there is no proof that he gathered intelligence to pass to foreigners. He said Majles MP Ahmad Bourgani was at the trial today, charged with giving 200 million rials to Geranpayeh's agency four years ago when he was deputy culture minister. Gernapayeh, Ali Abdi and Hossein Ghazian, officials of two padlocked polling agencies, were arrested two months ago after the publication of a poll that showed 75 percent of the respondents favor the resumption of US-Iran relations. (Fariba Mavedat, Prague)
<b>Plainclothes Police Take Away Tolstoy Translator Jabbari</b>
* Plainclothes policemen took away writer Alireza Jabbari, known for his volume of Persian translations of 30 Tolstoy stories, after searching his house for two hours yesterday. His daughter Azarang Jabbari tells <b>Radio Farda</b> that three men came home with her father in the middle of the day and, after searching their house, took her father, his files and his computer. She adds that since then the men contacted the family once only to ask her the password to the computer, but they did not let her talk to her father. She says she believes her father's arrest has to do an interview with him in this week's Toronto-based Sharhrvand magazine. She says her mother went to the Evin prison and a police station, but has been unable to locate her husband. (Mahmonir Rahimi, Prague)
<b>EU to Send a Human Rights Observer to Tehran</b>
* The Tehran evening newspaper Kayhan reported that a human rights representative from the EU will arrive in Iran on January 5 to follow the trials of 30 jailed journalists and activists. Paris-based human rights lawyer Abdolkarim Lahiji tells <b>Radio Farda</b> that the list of 30 prisoners was given by the association of human rights defenders to the EU human rights envoys before they went to Tehran two weeks ago for talks with the Iranian authorities. (Fereydoun Zarnegar, Prague)
<b>Majles Reports Draws a Grim Picture of the Judiciary</b>
* In its annual report, the Majles complaints committee drew a grim picture of the judiciary's handling of complaints. It said the committee received more than 8,000 reports and that the judiciary did not respond to two-thirds of the committee's inquiries and refused to allow committee members to visit complainants in jail or read their cases. Most complaints were about unlawful arrests, interrogations and trials. (Fariba Mavedat, Prague)
<b>Prison Vague on Fatal Fire at Gorgan Jail</b>
* Independent local journalist Naser Mahimani tells <b>Radio Farda</b> that bodies of some of the victims of the deadly fire that killed more than 27 prisoners in a newly built jail in Gorgan were turned over to their families, but prison officials refuse to release information about the fire and the reason for the unusually high death toll. He says prisoners out on furloughs are scattering unofficial information. He adds that prison authorities can end the spread of rumors by allowing a press visit to the prison. (Fariba Mavedat, Prague)
جاسم شديد زاده، نماينده اهواز در مجلس شوراي اسلامي، در پي بازداشت 300 نفر در اين شهر، خواهان تغيبر مسئولان نيروهاي انتظامي شد. ناآرامي هاي اهواز در پي آن آغاز شد كه صدها پليس به همراه افراد لباس شخصي به فروشگاه هاي ويديو و سي دي حمله بردند. نماينده اهواز گفت: مسئولان در باره دستگيري 300 نفر، آتش زده شدن يك بانك و بسته شدن جاده منتهي به اهواز توضيحي نمي دهند.
سعيد آل كثير، از اعضاي دفتر نمايندگان مجلس شوراي اسلامي در اهواز، در مصاحبه با راديوفردا مي گويد: به دنبال عمليات برچيني مراكز تهيه و توزيع سي دي، درگيري هائي صورت گرفت و مقاومت هائي از جانب اهالي منطقه. الان هم كه آقاي شديدزاده بيانيه اي صادر كرده كه از مردم دعوت مي كنند آرامش را حفظ كنند زيرا در نهايت اين به نفع توسعه استان نيست. تعدادي از نيروهائي كه آمده بودند توجيه نشده بودندو به هرحال منطقه اي بوده كه با ساير مناطق از نظر فرهنگي و بافت اجتماعي فرق مي كند و درايت و ظرافت بيشتري مي طلبيد و موقع بيرون آمدن دانش آموزان از مدارس بود و بالطبع دانش آموزان به محض اينكه تجمعي ببينند جمع مي شوند و يك مقدار درگيري با نيروهاي انتظامي پيش آمد چون نيروها از شهرهاي ديگر هم بودند و ممكن است برخوردهاي خشني داشتند.