Heard in Iran This Week
on Radio Farda
(Prague, Czech Republic -- August 10, 2006) Major stories for Radio Farda this week were the war in Lebanon, U.S. Ambassador to the IAEA Gregory Schulte's comments on Iran's response to the UN Security Council Resolution on Iran's nuclear enrichment activities, an eyewitness account of how a leading student activist was treated in prison shortly before he died, and new legal problems for Nobel Peace Laureate Shirin Ebadi.
>> The war between Israel and Hezbollah continued to dominate Radio Farda news coverage and talk shows with the focus on Israel's deepening advance into Lebanon, the civilian toll on both sides of the border, the UN draft resolution and accompanying debate, the role of Syria and Iran, and US policy in the Middle East. Radio Farda coverage drew on reporting from its correspondents in Cairo, London and Jerusalem, who file several times a day. In addition to a longtime contributor in Jerusalem, Radio Farda also sent a broadcaster from Washington to Israel to strengthen the component of news from that country. The Radio Farda correspondent in Cairo gave daily Arab press reviews and accounts of Arab leaders' reaction. Middle East analyst and Farda commentator Alireza Nurizadeh in London was interviewed several times for comments on the UN draft resolution and reaction to statements by Hezbollah.
On August 2, a number of Iranian women activists gathered at the UN offices in Tehran and held a demonstration calling for peace in the Middle East. Radio Farda interviewed Abdollah Momeni, a dissident student who attended the gathering. Momeni told Radio Farda that the demonstrators protested against loss of civilian life in Lebanon and called for immediate cessation of hostilities in the region. A longer version of the interview was aired on August 3, within the weekly program "Women and Society."
>> Radio Farda August 7 aired a special package on Iran's rejection of a U.N. Security Council resolution demanding Tehran suspend nuclear enrichment activities by the end of August. It included an interview with Gregory Schulte, U.S. ambassador to the IAEA in Vienna, who said the Security Council resolution is based on evidence of Iran�s aim to develop nuclear weapons. Dr. Pirouz Mojtahedzadeh, a foreign policy expert in Tehran, said in a phone interview with Radio Farda that IAEA inspectors have reported there is no evidence Iran is developing nuclear technology for military purposes.
>> A political activist who was in Tehran's Evin prison with political prisoner Akbar Mohammadi told Radio Farda, in a program aired August 7, that he witnessed Mohammadi's July 30 death in prison while on hunger strike. Former inmate Bina Darabzand said he was in the same prison block and saw Mohammadi around 8 p.m. on July 30, shortly before Mohammadi died. Darabzand said prison authorities denied Mohammadi adequate care and hospitalized him only after the third time he felt ill. Darabzand said, "When they returned him to the block, he told us during the last hour of his life that on [July 29] he had a heart attack in the prison infirmary." Mohammadi's death has renewed criticism of the Iranian government over its treatment of political dissidents (a report in English about the interview with Darabzand can be found at http://www.rferl.org/featuresarticle/2006/8/D139267F-86E7-401E-AECE-2AB318FB627B.html)
>> Iranian Judicial authorities have banned a human rights group that is led by 2003 Nobel Peace Laureate Shirin Ebadi. The Iranian Interior Ministry said on August 2 that Ebadi's four-year-old Center of Human Rights Defenders had failed to obtain a valid operating permit and warned it could be prosecuted. The Center has been an ardent voice for human and minority rights in Iran since its inception. Radio Farda in its weekly "Viewpoints" program August 8, interviewed founding member Mohammad Ali Dadkhah, who said that the Center has represented dozens of political prisoners in court, and that members of the Center of Human Rights Defenders will continue to act on an individual basis, despite the ban (a report in English on the closure of the organization can be found at http://www.rferl.org/featuresarticle/2006/8/ABDD3005-B21A-4592-A989-2A9666738728.html).
For more on these and other stories about Iran, please visit:
http://www.radiofarda.com -- Radio Farda's Persian-language website
http://www.rferl.org/reviews/farda.aspx -- "Focus on Farda" bi-weekly review
http://www.rferl.org/reports/iran-report/default.asp -- "RFE/RL Iran Report" weekly analysis
http://www.rferl.org/featuresarchive/country/iran.html -- RFE/RL English-language coverage of Iran
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